Nehemiah contains a covenant made by the people of Israel, down to listing the name of every person who signed it. Like the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, it indicated a joint purpose and to-the-death dedication to see it accomplished.
Nehemiah contains a list of do's and don't's, summarized in the sentence that ends chapter ten: We will not neglect the Temple of our God. Perhaps this was the start of the 603 rules Jews followed in Jesus's day to ensure adherence to the law. They had learned their lesson in the harshness of exile; never again did they fall prey to idol worship. (Of course, they didn't recognize the Messiah when He came, but no one could accuse them laxness in following the letter of the law.)
This oath-taking reminded me of other memorable documents designed to bind people in a common purpose. How about the Mayflower Compact, a document designed to govern the xx hardy Puritans who arrived in Plymouth in 1620?
Other "rules" are shorter and easier to remember. How about the rules for holy living by John Wesley?
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever. . .
Accountability and support--the advantages of community are recognized and urged upon us. We join Bible studies, critique groups, weight loss groups, a homeowners association--any one of a myriad of activities--with others. Their encouragement helps us pursue a goal after we would give up on our own.
Many of my readers will recognize the following lines:
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
I spent three happy years as a girl scout junior. How about you?
I will close with the words of the Girl Scout Law, which could be taken as our code of conduct as believers:
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.