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The Church and Social Evils
I. Note the plain Christian duty of sympathetic contemplation of surrounding sorrows.
Nehemiah might have made a great many very good excuses for treating lightly the tidings that his brother had brought him. He let the tidings fill his heart, and bum there.
The first condition of sympathy is knowledge; and the second is attending to what we do know. And so I want to press upon Christian people the plain duty of knowing what you do know, and of giving an ample place in your thoughts to the stark, staring facts around us.
II. Such a realization of the dark facts is indispensable to all true work for alleviating them.
There is no way of helping men but by bearing what they bear. Jesus Christ would never have been the Lamb of God that bore away the sins of the world, unless He Himself had 'taken our infirmities and borne our sicknesses'. No work of healing will be done, except by those whose hearts have bled with the feeling of the miseries which they have set themselves to cure.
III. Such realization of surrounding sorrows should drive to communion with God.
Nehemiah wept and mourned, and that was well. But between his weeping and mourning and his practical work there had to be still another link of connexion. 'He wept and mourned,' and because he was sad he turned to God 'I fasted and prayed certain days'. There he got at once comfort for his sorrows and sympathies, and deepening of his sympathies, and thence he drew inspiration that made him a hero and a martyr. So, all true service for the world must begin with close communion with God.
IV. Such sympathy should be the parent of a noble, self-sacrificing life. Look at the man in our story. He had the ball at his feet. He had the entrée of a court and the ear of a king. Brilliant prospects were opening before him, but his brethren's sufferings drew him, and with a noble resolution of self-sacrifice he shut himself out from them and went into the wilderness. If Christians are to do the work that they can do, and that Christ has put them into this world that they may do, there must be self-sacrifice with it.
A. Maclaren, The Wearied Christ, p. 258.
References. 1.4. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, p. 334. I. 4, 5. J. Parker, Studies in Texts, vol. i. p. 48. I. 4-11. Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 97. I. 11. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlvii. No. 2714. II. 4. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii. No. 1390. II. 10. J. Marshall Lang, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliii. 1893, p. 346.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Nehemiah 1". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent