“But the earlier governors . . .placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels from them

So says Nehemiah as he reflects on his days overseeing the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s fallen walls. He was in a position to ‘fare sumptuously.’ He could have used his authority to make himself very comfortable on the backs of his fellow countrymen who were poor. It was Nehemiah’s right to expect to live at a standard above those he governed—but he did not exercise his right. Compassion looks beyond what is permitted. There are things not wrong in themselves, but they become wrong when my doing of them is more important than helping the oppressed and weary.

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