Leadership 35

Nehemiah Chapter 3 looks on the surface like many of the Old Testament family genealogies that we glance through or speed read on our way through a read the-Bible-in-a-year plan. If we are not careful, we will miss the rich insights that are there for us. This is not a family genealogy or someone begat someone else. Nehemiah 3 is actually an Old Testament picture of the church.

Jesus said in Matthew 16, “I will build my church.” He builds it by consolidating members, parts, pieces… bricks together. Rather than a series of “begats” we have a record of how people stood “next to” each other as the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt. In Hebrew, the phrase “next to” translates a Hebrew word for “at the hand.” Literally, these families stood “hand in hand” as they rebuilt the wall that Babylon… the world… had torn down.

They didn’t just build it… they WERE the wall around Jerusalem! You see God isn’t as concerned about the building the church meets in as He is in the church that is in the building! Hand in hand religious professionals, politicians, perfumers, goldsmiths, civic leaders and families from as far away as Jericho came and, hand in hand, set about “the good work” that God had placed before them. Everyone… craftsmen, politicians and priests… stood on the level ground of rebuilding this broken wall.

Still today, the cross is the great leveler of men. All people need salvation. Our positions, possessions or prestige all disappear before the cross of Jesus. We stand even today “next to each other” as we do the work that God has set before us and as He builds His church. And while numerous individuals were named on this roll call, others who worked were not. But God does not forget. Though our names may not be in the spotlight of the world, God remembers our good work. Heaven applauds even if earth forgets. We must continue to focus, not on the applause of men but on the pleasure of God in what we do.

This text also stands as a reminder that it takes all of us to do this work. The sections were completed and the wall of Jerusalem rebuilt in 52 days because each man, each family participated. Notably, one group would not do their part. In verse 5, we are told that the “nobles” of the Tekoites would not “put their shoulders to the work of the Lord.” They were too proud… too good… to take direction from the supervisors and so their lack made the work of the rest of the Tekoite families more difficult. We must each do our part… whether it is glorious or menial… for the work to be done in a way that glorifies God. The work of rebuilding needs every person to participate, not just a choice few. At its finest the church is not a spectator sport. It is a unified work. It requires us all.

Does God have your best efforts?

FOR MEDITATION: For we are all part of the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 12:27

FOR REFLECTION: It is a brutal but necessary question: If every member of your church participated at the level you are, what would your church be like? I realize that’s a tough question and for some it raises unnecessary guilt. If you are physically limited or hampered by care giving, your task is different. But if you are healthy but just busy… or if you never knew you were supposed to be a part of “the good work” God is accomplishing, apply the question to yourself: does your participation truly honor God… or not?

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