“The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.” NIV


In the second act of his play, ‘The devil’s disciple’, George Bernard Shaw puts these words on the lips of Rev Anthony Anderson: ‘The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.’

As I recall, C.S. Lewis said some thing like this: if you were ever to meet a truly humble person, you wouldn’t think, ‘This is a humble man, or woman.’ What you would say is, ‘This person is really interested in me.’

I heard a story about a young employee who was leaving his firm. At his exit interview he was asked by a senior manager, ‘What would we have had to say to you to keep you?’ His reply was ‘Anything!!’

On the other hand, Paul said about Timothy, ‘’I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare’’ Philippians 2:20.

As we come into Nehemiah’s story, we see that he has an important job, and no doubt, comfortable circumstances. He is cupbearer to the king, in Susa. (This was the capital city of the Persian empire at the time, and site of the king’s winter palace). So, because he has access to the king he is a man of great influence. Yet, he is deeply interested in the welfare of Jerusalem, and of the exiles who had returned home many years earlier. How was it going with them, and the city? He wanted to know. It wasn’t one of those perfunctory questions where you’re not really bothered about the answer. It’s just a social nicety.

No, Nehemiah looked beyond his immediate circle and circumstances and was deeply interested to know about his fellow- Jews in a far away land. The answer he received was to be a turning-pont. Warren Wiersbe says, ‘Like large doors, great life-changing events can swing on very small hinges.’

Thought: Who, outside of your immediate circle, and natural spheres of interest, might you show concern for today? Somebody called Jesus, ‘The Man for others.’ His followers cannot be wrapped up in themselves.