I remember as a kid trying to sell my parents on letting me get a puppy. I told them, “I will feed him, play with him, and care for him. You won’t have to do anything.” I brought Spike home and put him in our back yard. I did everything I told my parents I would do… for a while. As Spike got bigger, he got harder to care for. My parents had to pick up the slack. Before too long, I didn’t even look out the back window. Then one day when I did, he was gone. I neglected my responsibilities and as a result, my parents gave away my dog.
That was a hard lesson to learn as a kid. I did love that dog, but I didn’t comprehend the long term commitment to him I’d made. It’s like in the Old Testament when Nehemiah rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem. Soon afterwards, people moved back into the city for protection. Nehemiah called for a meeting at the Temple to read the law written by Moses. In Nehemiah 10, they promised to obey the law. When it came to the portion of the law regarding the temple in verse 39, they said, “We promise together not to neglect the Temple of our God” (NLT)
In Nehemiah 13, It was about 20 years later, and they fell into the same trap I did. They began to neglect the Temple. Nehemiah had gone back to his job in Babylon, but had now returned to Jerusalem. In verse 11 it says, “I immediately confronted the leaders and demanded, ‘Why has the Temple of God been neglected?’ Then I called all the Levites back again and restored them to their proper duties.” Instead of getting rid of it (like my parents did to Spike), he restored order and reset expectations.
I’ve found that his method is useful to all of us in the parts of our lives that we are neglecting. When we neglect our prayer time, our Bible reading, our service to others, our going to church, or any other area of our life, we need to confront the situation, reset expectations, and restore the things in our lives that helped us to do those things before. Over time we can slip away from the positive things we were once doing, but we will have consequences just like the Israelites did. Having a Nehemiah in your life who can point out the areas you’re neglecting and help you to reset and to restore things is a must.
Today’s a good day to look in the mirror of your life and ask, “What have I been neglecting? What do I need to do to reset and restore?”