Repaired In The Harbor

by Nov 27, 2017

Who likes to be confronted when they’re doing something wrong? No one. That person doesn’t exist. That’s why my wife and I can’t load our dishwasher together. I have a very strategic way to load the dishwasher, that I’ve honed and perfected from years of dishwashing, to where every dish is spread in a way where it can get the maximum amount of cleaning while still being tightly packed enough so that we can get the most dishes into the dishwasher. I’m just fine on my own. But when my wife comes along and looks at my masterpiece, she says the four words that warm my soul: “You’re doing it wrong.” How’s that feel? How’s it feel when you’re confronted about something you’re dong wrong? Typically, we get defensive. We try to rationalize why we’re not wrong. Then, we get detached… “Fine, you do it then.” Then, guys, we get embarrassed, because our wives always have an actual better way to do everything that we try to do. She’s shown me her method, and it is better (I’m getting no brownie points for this).

So why do I hate confrontation so much, even though it’s always for my good? And if I hate it when it’s about something silly, how do I respond when it’s about something serious and actually sinful?

In Nehemiah 13, Nehemiah comes back to Jerusalem to check in on the people, to see how they’re doing at keeping the commitments they made to God in chapter 10. He finds out that they’ve broken every. single. one. of those commitments. Now, he could have shaken his head, chuckled, and moved on like a grandparent does with a kolohe kid. Instead, he confronts the people in verses 11 and 17 who were sinning. This isn’t a jerk move, this is a loving move. He did it because he cares about these people. He wants them to experience the fullness of enjoying God and being enjoyed by God, and he knows that they won’t if they keep down this path.

We Drift Away From God
These people in Jerusalem who were committed to God and made these vows to follow God had gone back on every vow that they made in chapter 10. It’d be easy to get on their case about this and be judgmental, but this isn’t just a problem we see in the people of Israel. This is a problem we see in all of mankind. We see it in each one of our hearts. We vow that we’re going to follow God and never do that sinful thing again, and then we go do that sinful thing at first chance. We vow that we’ve given our life to God, and we run away from God whenever something enticing comes along. We get apathetic and lazy, and we don’t pray or even pick up our Bibles. There’s a song we sing at Harbor West Oahu that says, “prone to wonder, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” We naturally drift away from God and toward sin.

Here’s a great question we can ask ourselves (we’re going to talk about it in community groups this wee): How have I drifted away from God? Maybe there was a time where you were spiritually on fire, you were praying a ton, reading your Bible, memorizing Scripture, meeting with other people to talk about what you’re learning, but now you’re not doing one or any of those things anymore. Maybe you were fighting some specific sin and you were trusting more and more in Jesus and that sin started to seem disgusting to you, but now, you’re right back at it on a consistent basis.

How have you drifted away from God?

We Need To Be Confronted
Here’s the reality of what’s happening in Nehemiah 13: Nehemiah coming back to confront these people about their sin shows us that God doesn’t give up on his people. Because these issues have been a repeated struggle and a repeated failure for these people, for years and years, the same sins.

Do you feel like you’re fighting the same sin over and over? Something that you’ve tried to kill in your life but you’re still fighting it? Know two things: first, the rest of us are right there with you. Some of us aren’t admitting it. Some of us don’t know it because we don’t recognize the depth of our sinfulness yet. Some of us have been fighting it for longer than you have. But we’re all right there with you. Second, it’s a good that we’re struggling with sin. It means that God hasn’t abandoned us. God could have seen that these people slid back into the same sin they promised not to do, and said, “That’s enough already. I’m done with these guys.” But He didn’t. He sent Nehemiah back, to confront them and point them to God again. That’s part of God’s love for us.

Proverbs 3:11-12 says: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his correction, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” God corrects the person whom he loves. If you’re being confronted with your sin; if you feel guilt when you do something God has said you shouldn’t do; if there’s someone in your life that is helping you see your sin and how to move away from it; those are clear evidence that God is loving you.

But, if when we’re confronted with our sin, we won’t receive it, we dig our heals in, no matter what God says, and we won’t be moved, we’re actually rejecting God’s love, rejecting his kindness to us. We need to be confronted. We need his love.

We Need To Be Healed
We need more than just to know that we’re broken and lost; we need to be healed. We need to be saved. Nehemiah is showing us a picture of that by what he does for this people. He summarizes it in verse 30: Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; and I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the firstfruits.” He cleansed them. He established them. He provided for them. And then he sent them out to live this new, changed lives.

And they did change. Back up in verse 3 it says, “As soon as the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent.” They recognized they were wrong. They changed what they were doing. They obeyed God. Even though this would have been terribly difficult.

What we see in Nehemiah 13 is one of the reasons we named our church Harbor Church. We want our church to be like a safe place, like a harbor is for ships. We’re all ships that go out each week and get beaten up in the waves and in the storms, we get all broken because of sin and our own weakness, and we need to have a place that’s a safe Harbor, a place we can come and be repaired. Be healed. Be cared for. Be equipped. And be sent back out stronger. A safe place for broken people, just like us.

But Nehemiah’s not around anymore. He can’t come to our church and heal us. Here in Nehemiah 13, God’s actually using Nehemiah to show us a picture of what Jesus would eventually do for all of us. When Jesus came on the scene, he confronted people about their sin more powerfully than anyone ever had. Jesus came and told us fools that we’re far more sinful than we ever could have imagined. But then he healed us far more powerfully than we could have ever dreamed.

Isaiah was a prophet who wrote about Jesus in the Old Testament, and he said this about Jesus healing us: “Surely [Jesus] has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Because of what Jesus did on the cross, taking our place, taking our blame, taking our sins, dying the death we deserved, we can be healed right now, today, from any and every sin that has broken us.

How have you drifted away from God? Each of us have in some way.
Be confronted with your sin. Don’t run away from it. Acknowledge that you’ve sinned. Confess it God.
Be healed today through Jesus. It’s the only way we can be healed.