God's work and our part in it
GOD’S work is being done in this world and a record is being kept in heaven as to all those who are taking part in it; what they are doing; how they are doing it ; and what the motive is that lies behind their labour. This is at once a solemnizing and encouraging consideration. In ancient times God’s eye watched His servants and noted the way they did His work, and He has given us His own account of it all.
In Nehemiah 3:5 we learn that the Tekoites repaired the wall, but they did it half-heartedly : “Their nobles put not their necks to the work of their God.” These were the leaders, and if the leaders were lukewarm, so would the people be, and to this day their shame stands upon record in the Word of God.
Shallum, the son of Halohesh, was a man of a different stamp ; his enthusiasm for the work was such that it inspired his daughters and they helped him in building the wall ; and he was no mean man, for we are told that he was ruler of half Jerusalem. His daughters might have argued that, as their father was a man in such a place of honour, their business was to maintain the dignity of the house and not soil their hands with labour ; but no, their ambition was to have part in the Lord’s work, and they had, and the dignity of their house has not suffered, for it is recorded that Shallum built— “he and his daughters” (verse 12).
The way that Baruch, the son of Zabbai, laboured was specially noted, for we read that he earnestly repaired that part of the wall that fell to his lot. What a contrast to the nobles of Tekoi was he!
The people had a mind to work, we are told (chapter 4:6), and they laboured from the rising of the sun until the stars appeared (verse 21). Their hearts were in it ; their own ease or time was a very minor matter with them, “the work of their God” was their first consideration. Nor did they labour by proxy ; there were no shirkers ; every man had his own work to do and did it and more. For those who had to watch and fight against a subtle foe still “bare burdens” and “everyone with his own hands wrought in the work” (verse 17).
There were those who built over against their own houses (verse 28) ; wise men doing that which was near at hand, and doing it with a will, and not wasting their energies and time in dictating to others how and where they should build. And one man receives honourable mention who does not seem to have had a house to build against ; he possessed no property, only a chamber, for Meshullam built over against his chamber. But that chamber in which he lived and where he held intercourse with his God was part of the city and needed the wall of protection from evil as any other part of it, and so he built, and though probably only a poor lodger in the city, his name is enrolled amongst those who did the work of God.
And the fear of God kept them from covetousness and love of gain. The work of the wall—God’s work—was more to them than their own enrichment (chapter 5:15,16).
So they finished the work, but not in their own strength, but the God of heaven, He prospered them (chapter 2:20) ; their confidence was in Him and He did not fail them. Nor will He fail any to-day who take His work in hand, constrained thereto by the love of Christ ; but let us do it in His fear, for a record is being kept above of all we do, and how and why we do it, for “every man’s work shall be made manifest ; for the day shall declare it . . . of what sort it is” (1 Cor. 3:13).
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