Of course we all get angry. If we let it out we might burn up the people around us, but if we hold it in we might blow up inside. What are we to do when we’re burning mad?
Nehemiah was in the midst of a massive building program, with enemies of Israel threatening to attack at any moment, and then people start coming to him with reports of the ungodly lifestyle among some of Israel’s leading families.
To say Nehemiah was hot is an understatement (Nehemiah 5:6). The Hebrew word means boiling mad, scorching hot! We would do very well to notice how he handled this situation.
First, “I pondered these accusations in my mind…” (v. 7a). He didn’t fire off the first thoughts that came to mind.
Second, “…then I accused the nobles and officials. I told them, ‘You are loan-sharking your own countrymen’” (v. 7b). He made a very specific point without elaborating on all the gory details.
Third, he gave them an opportunity to respond (v. 8).
Fourth, he called them all together and said, “What you’re doing isn’t right. You are not following God’s ways, and you are giving God a bad reputation to those outside our community” (v. 9).
Fifth, he used his personal lifestyle as an example (v. 10).
Finally, he asked them to change their behavior (v. 11).
- Make the accusation simple
- Give them a chance to respond
- Hold them to a high standard
- Live out the standard yourself
- Ask for a change of behavior
The next time you’re burning mad, try this and see what happens.