If you are anything like us, you have signed your fair share of contracts; a loan for your home, a car loan, your marriage certificate, if you don't own a home, then a rental contract. I am still studying Nehemiah and today I have been in chapter 10. But, the 'kicker' actually comes in chapter 9, verse 38, "Now because of all this We are making an agreement in writing; And on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests." After the Israelites listened to the reading and explanation of the Law, then obeying it, they signed a written covenant with God. In my mind that is a very serious commitment! As J.I. Packer noted, "Israel's overall commitment was thus something very much to admire. It was an expression of radical repentance, which meant a change of mind, heart, and life; a gesture of full consecration, which meant being separated from other people of God; and a gateway into the life of faith, in which God would be relied on for everything."
That list of signers is in Nehemiah 10:1-27. Talk about accountability! I would like to think that all churches today are strong in accountability, but I don't believe that to be the case. It is so easy for people to become lulled into complacency today. There is no accountability unless you actively seek it! Look at how many people claim to be "born again" Christians yet our society becomes increasingly more decadent each passing day. You know what is so frightening about that? The average Christian is literally indistinguishable from their non-Christian neighbor or co-worker. That can be really evident in my 'neck of the woods' because the predominant religion here is very big into good works to get into heaven.
It is so important for each of us to have accountability. Who knows you inside and out? Who will be faithful and ask you tough questions? That takes courage. Have you ever given a person the opportunity (and the permission) to get that close to you? I would highly encourage you to, if you haven't already.
There are many thought provoking statements and commitments throughout this chapter. Verse 28 states, "...who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God..." Think about that happening today...that is not a politically correct move in this day and age! I don't think that means you think that you are 'too good' for certain people. Not at all. I believe it is talking more about not spending time with those people who would literally lead you into sin. Like AA, for example. I have a friend who is an alcoholic and they told her, "Do not spend time with active alcoholics. In fact, don't even hang with your old buddies, even if they have given up drinking." It is just too risky.
Another thing, the Israelites pledged to carefully "obey all the commands, regulations and decrees of God our Lord" (vs. 29). Now there is another unpopular concept today, obedience! Besides being a requirement of our Holy God, it is the secret to spiritual power.
They were very serious about their commitment. In verse 32 they assume responsibility to give to God's house and to keep up the maintenance. They gave their firstfruits before they even knew if their second fruits would come in.
Then, in verse 39 they "will not neglect the house of our God." If you are a believer, then we (you and I) are the house of God. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. I had to ask myself when was the last time the temple had a thorough cleaning? A spiritual cleansing. That means I need to keep my soul and spirit clean. First John 1:9 comes to mind, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (ESV).
So what does it all mean? Renewed dedication comes back to confession and repentance. The purpose and outcome of accountability is cleansed, purified lives that glorify God!