I love the description of the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem under Nehemiah’s close eye. We read phrases like “next to him”, and “beside him” throughout the narrative as each family group takes responsibility for a part of the reconstruction.
Obviously, Nehemiah couldn’t accomplish the project on his own; it may have been his vision, but the people’s participation was not only expected, but necessary. There’s a lesson for the church right there—pastors can’t do it all; in fact, not even most of the work in building God’s kingdom.
The New Testament version of Nehemiah, (i.e., Paul of Tarsus), put it this way:
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
In other words, the church is a definite hands-on operation. How can I obey the “pick up your cross and follow Me” injunction if I’m not even willing to pick up a hammer? Or mow a lawn? Or change a diaper in the nursery? (C’mon guys, if I can use the weed-eater, you can change a nappy.)
To accomplish this God-given task, it takes cooperation. I may have charge of a piece of the wall, but it’s not my wall; in fact, it’s not even “my” piece. And no section is more important than the other—any breach or weak area anywhere in the wall would invite the enemy’s intrusion.
Once again, Paul keeps pace with Nehemiah:
In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary…So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.
Unfortunately, we still have that old tendency to think otherwise. This is when the phrases “next to him” and “beside him” are very informative. Interestingly, they didn’t get to choose their part of the wall; it seems like it was more of an assignment—this is where you live? Okay, then, go find your drill and get started!
But, no. This is where a little nugget of an attitude is recorded for all eternity—
Next were the people from Tekoa, though their leaders refused to work with the construction supervisors.
There is no indication as to why this was so, and plenty of speculation is available. Too busy with their own important work? Thought the work “beneath” them? Were their co-workers in the wrong social class? The interesting thing is that the reason didn’t matter enough to record…
…because there are no excuses, period.
Haughty eyes, a proud heart,
and evil actions are all sin.
So, in the wise words of Chuck Swindoll, “hand me another brick.”
Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Corinthians 12:22-25; Nehemiah 2:5; Proverbs 21:4 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.