Working Side by Side

As we have talked this summer about living in exile, I have been frequently reminded that it is not possible to cover every detail. There are so many stories and events that have to be summarized in a minute or two, or passed over altogether. I would encourage you to study along and spend some time filling in those gaps.
One of the things that just got a quick mention last week was the way everyone worked side by side building the wall in Nehemiah 3. There is a lot we can learn about the nature of work and our attitudes toward it from how the people work in that chapter. The Preaching the Word Bible Commentary points out four things that are worth noting.
  • “Not all work is equally distributed, but all workers are equally responsible.” Especially when lots of people are working together on a project, some people are always going to work harder than others, and some work is always going to take longer than other work. But each part of the work and each worker matters.
  • “Not all the work is equally pleasant, but it is all equally important.” Our family spent a Saturday putting up a fence a few years ago. Measurements had to be made. Holes had to be dug. Cement had to be mixed. Poles had to be set. Fence panels had to be assembled. Some of those jobs are more enjoyable than others. Without any one of those things, the fence would not last.
  • “Not all workers are equally gifted, but all are equally valuable.” If you have a child or grandchild in the preschool Bible class, I hope you noticed how great the bullrushes looked on the wall that became the river where baby Moses was placed in a basket. My wife (the creative one) did 98% of the design and execution of that scene. I cut out bullrushes, because it’s hard to mess that up. Don’t listen to that voice that says your work is less important or not valuable. That is not God speaking to you.
  • “Not all workers are equally enthusiastic, but all work repays personal investment.” I will have to admit that I was not enthusiastic about putting up a fence or cutting out bullrushes. I would imagine that some of those in Nehemiah 3 were much more excited about having a wall than building it themselves. Still when we are willing to do the work, it pays off. And if we are enthusiastic about it, that might encourage the next worker on the wall.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”   Ephesians 4:15-16

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