But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” Nehemiah 2:17
One of the biggest hindrances in turning our compassion into action is complacency. The majority of us would say that we are compassionate. However, many of us become so comfortable with our routine that we either do not want to interrupt our normal routine by acting upon the burdens we feel, or we do not make room for such interruptions. It is not because we do not care, but we often settle for complacency instead of making a difference. This is true for us today, and it was also true for the people of Israel during the time of Nehemiah.
In Nehemiah 2, Nehemiah calls the people of Israel out of complacency. In the past, the Israelites had been captured by the Babylonian empire, who destroyed Jerusalem’s walls. About 70 years after the first invasion, the Persian empire took over the Babylonian empire and eventually allowed the Israelites who had been captured during this time to return home to Israel. For a time, however, they did not rebuild the wall. Think about this; every day, they passed by the rubble of the wall for 70 years. It was a disgrace that they became comfortable with. They had become used to their lives and were unwilling to make any changes. Finally, Nehemiah called them together and called them out of their complacency. He called them to act and make a difference for their land and people. “Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” (Nehemiah 2:17). With this call, Nehemiah brought the people of Israel out of complacency. He called them to pause their normal lives to rebuild this wall, something that desperately needed to be done.
As you consider your life, have you, much like the Israelites, become complacent? Do you have a burden from God, but you are so used to your everyday life and routine that you have not let that burden move you toward action? Do you see complacency in the lives of your children? We must remember and teach our kids that life is short, and God has called us to so much more than lives of complacency. Live a life of impact, not complacency, even if that means that you are called out of your normal routine so that you can have a significant impact on the world.
Consider your life and your routine. What is one daily habit that you can take up that will cause you to pause in your routine and think about the burden God has given you? Begin that habit today and step out of your normal routine in order to follow God’s call in your life. Sit down with the children in your life. Teach them that God does not call us to live complacent lives. Ask them to also think of a daily habit they can pick up to pause in their routine to think about the burden that God has given them.
Read Nehemiah 2:11-20 (NLT)
So I arrived in Jerusalem. Three days later, I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us except the donkey I was riding. After dark I went out through the Valley Gate, past the Jackal’s Well, and over to the Dung Gate to inspect the broken walls and burned gates. Then I went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but my donkey couldn’t get through the rubble. So, though it was still dark, I went up the Kidron Valley instead, inspecting the wall before I turned back and entered again at the Valley Gate.
The city officials did not know I had been out there or what I was doing, for I had not yet said anything to anyone about my plans. I had not yet spoken to the Jewish leaders—the priests, the nobles, the officials, or anyone else in the administration. But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.
They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work.
But when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan, they scoffed contemptuously. “What are you doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” they asked.
I replied, “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no share, legal right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.”