Nehemiah 3 is an account of how the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt, who did the rebuilding, and which family built which part. In fact that is basically how the entirety of the chapter is laid out. This family rebuilt the wall from here to here and beside them these people were there and so on and so forth. This is a good example of the repetition that is present in many Old Testament passages.
Though this does not make for gripping and compelling reading it does show the attention that the Jews of this time had to detail and gives us some good lessons for our lives today.
This passage teaches a lot about unity, teamwork, and encouragement.Let me touch on four lessons we can learn from this passage.
1) Burdens are Lighter when Everyone Works Together.
One of the amazing accomplishments that occurs in the book of Nehemiah is the fact that it only took the people 52 days to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem (Nehemiah 6:15). Now granted there were still lots of things to be done after this but what an amazing feet that was able to be done.
This was accomplished because everyone was working together. One thing chapter 3 of Nehemiah shows us is the sheer amount of people that were working on the wall. What is also reminds us of is the immensity of the work at hand. Jerusalem was not a small village but a large city covering a substantial area. It is only by everyone of those people working diligently together that the work got done. This shows the principle that working together lightens the burden of the work God has for us.
This is most clearly seen in the church environment when so much of the work that the church does relies upon everyone doing their part. Take, for example, a very common event at a church, vacation Bible school. Countless numbers of these programs are put on each year. Each one a huge undertaking ministering to unknown millions of children every summer.
The way in which these events happen occurs through the church working together and everyone doing their part to make these Bible schools successful. The burden is lightened by all those that help.
Here’s something for us to seriously ponder. Study after study shows that about 90% of the work done in a church is done by only about 10% of the people in the church. This is true across the board from small congregations to mega churches. What could the church accomplish with 100% of the church working for the cause of Christ and the Glory of God? Think of the evangelistic outreach, the discipleship opportunities, and vast work that could be done if the church as a whole would come together to accomplish the tasks laid out by Jesus.
Here’s three questions we can all ask ourselves in consideration of this.
- Am I a burden to the work God is trying to do around me or am I making the burden lighter?
- If a study was done at my church would I be counted in the 10% that does most of the work or in the 90% that only account for 10%?
- Which group would I like to be remembered as being part of?
2) Work goes faster when everyone works together
Fifty two days is an astonishing amount of time for the wall of Jerusalem to be rebuilt. Now granted the people were not starting from scratch, they were rebuilding as opposed to building walls from the ground up, but still the description of the wall that Nehemiah received in chapter one was a pretty poor one (Nehemiah 1:3).
However, when people work together there is a speed that can be achieved that cannot be accomplished alone. Two people working together can mow a lawn over twice as fast as a single person. Ask anyone who has gone to a seminar on productivity and they will tell you five people, working together, can fold more paper airplanes than five people working apart.
Work goes faster when everyone works together. It is vividly shown in Nehemiah 3 and remains true when speaking of things done in ministry. I’m not simply speaking about how quickly chairs get put up after a church social but also the vitally important and eternally significant work that church is here to do. How quickly can visitation, evangelism, ministering to the needs of others, and other such work be done when we all work together.
Let’s face it the church has a lot of work to do but at the rate we are accomplishing it, that work might not ever get done. It would go faster and be done better if we all stepped up and did the things that God by His Spirit has equipped us to do. Let me remind you that the church of Jesus Christ is supposed to be a moving entity that not even the gates of hell can stand against. However, if all of the church does not stand and take up the work each individual is called to the church will not have the momentum to ring the door bell of hell let alone knock down it’s gates.
I do not write this to bring anyone down but rather to encourage us all that we can work together and we should be working for the Glory of God. When we labor in unity for our Savior that work will go quickly and be wondrously beneficial to all the world.
Here’s some questions to think about when it comes to the church and how quickly its work is being done.
- Am I acting like grease in the axles or glue in the gears?
- How can I help the work of the church and in turn help my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ do what needs to be done?
- What is my place in the church and am I where I need to be?
3) Each person’s work is important
As you’re reading Nehemiah 3 you probably have thought ‘wow Jerusalem has a lot of gates.’ It’s true Jerusalem did have a lot of gates back then, some less prestigious than others and let’s face it most people could only name 2 or 3 if they really tried. However, when you look at it from a construction and strategic standpoint there is no gate or wall that is more or less important. Sure, some might be more prestigious than others, I believe I would rather be working on the Fountain Gate than the Dung Gate, but all were important.
The fact of the matter is if every one of the gates and walls were rebuilt with the exception of one, Jerusalem would not be safe. If one gate or one wall did not get rebuilt it would be open season on the inhabitant of Jerusalem because their defenses would be worthless in the presence of an unfinished piece of the wall.
The same is true of the work of the church and the work that we do in the service of God Almighty. Sometimes the work we do might feel insignificant or trifle but there is a huge purpose in it and can have eternal consequences. A case in point would be a visit I received from the youth pastor of my home church. I was in middle school at the time and not an avid church attender but the youth group of my church and its youth pastor came by one Wednesday night and invited me to come and be part of the youth group. Little did I know that one visit would be one of the most life changing events in my life. Because of that little visit which probably did not last more than fifteen minutes I was influenced enough to come to the youth program where I received teaching from the Bible that eventually drew me into a relationship with Christ and henceforth led me on the path to becoming a pastor.
Now looking back that small little visit, if looked at by itself, it could be looked at as worthless. Certainly small in its time frame and no earth shattering events occurred right when it happened but God used that event to do incredible things in my life.
Right now you might be feeling the same way with the seemingly small things you are doing for God. It might feel like you’re building the Dung Gate with no purpose but I assure you, you can never estimate what God is doing though your service to Him.Every aspect of ministry is of untold value to the purposes of God.
Remember these things the next time you feel down and out because you think the work you do is small.
- God uses small things to do great works
- David and Goliath
- The Feeding of the 5,000
- All things work together in God’s great plan
- Every part of the Body of Christ is Important
4) Each person is due recognition for his work
This final point is one that I make to those in leadership, the pastorate, those with children, and anyone in the position to praise another for the work that they do for the Lord. In this life that we live for God we need cheerleaders. Not ones that are inflating our egos but ones telling us good job and keep up the good work. Nehemiah 3 stands as a record of who did the work but I bet it also encouraged all the men who were working on that wall knowing that their names were being written down. I suspect they worked a little harder when they realized that when someone read the pages of the account of the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem that their names would be seen.
Let me urge you to encourage and cheer on everyone you can when the work of God is being done. Parents, build your children up and praise them for serving the Lord. Pastors, encourage and recognize those in your congregation that have worked diligently for the Lord. Be a cheerleader that the work of God might continue and that the servants of God might not lose heart.
Discouragement is a reality for those that would follow after Christ. This world will relentlessly say that what we are doing is pointless and our efforts are futile in what we are trying to accomplish. Discouragement is a reality that is as sure as taxes and high gas prices. The sad fact that we need to take notice of is that an environment of encouragement and healthy cheering is only present when Christians chose to act and make it happen and there is a great need for that today.
The Christian church, the christian home, and those places filled with Christians ought to be places where people’s spirits are lifted up. The only way a person should be able to leave church discouraged is by a sheer act of a stubborn will coupled with the intentional deafness to the uplifting and encouraging words of all the saints that are present and a chosen numbness to those trying to lift them and their spirits high.
Let me end by giving some advice on being one who encourages and recognizes the work that people do for God.
- Be on the look out for those that you can encourage (you’ll be surprised how many people need a word of encouragement)
- Regularly encourage those that are in the habit of serving God (Sunday school teachers, youth ministers, and Pastors especially)
- Notes written to acknowledge and encourage others are worth their weight in gold, silver, and platinum
- Make complimenting and encouraging a thing you want to have no regrets about in life. A word of praise and acknowledgement could change someones course of life. Don’t be timid, just do it!
By Daniel Gregory