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Nehemiah 4:6 says, “So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.”
I love the book of Nehemiah. There is so much goodness in it. The leadership of Nehemiah, the teamwork of the people, the enemies getting stronger but God’s people steadily plodding to build the wall anyway. All the prayers and encouragement of the leaders, the strategy…I love it all.
When I came across Nehemiah 4:6 the other day, I of course, focused on “for the people had a mind to work”. After all, that’s usually what pastors I have been around would preach about. The other day though I was asked to look at how smart Nehemiah was to build all the wall to its half way point. My devotional leader Kelly Minter said, “So instead of completing the sections that were easily coming along and leaving the more difficult chunks for later, they decided to get the whole wall to the halfway mark. This may have meant leaving certain portions that were well-along in order to fill the gaps that were leaving vulnerable holes. It was better for the whole wall to be shored up, even though incomplete, than to have fully built sections here and there while others lie disconnected. This feels like divine wisdom to me.”
It felt like divine wisdom to me as well and I couldn’t help but think about our churches. Each church has people who are great at “wall building”. They just seem to be able to pray and trust and have the kind of faith that everyone desires. They build great walls of protection around their loved ones by prayer and standing firmly on God’s Word. Through years of pressing in to Jesus they have faithfully built their section of the wall.
Others are more vulnerable. They haven’t gone through as much faith testing. They’ve trusted in other things until they have finally realized that only God can sustain. They forget to pray first when an attack comes. Their wall still has gaping holes where the Enemy can easily penetrate.
Nehemiah 4:6 tells us the smart thing to do is to come together and help each other build the whole wall until all sections are joined. We may not understand why their section isn’t further along, but we are still called to help. The people of Jerusalem knew that they were still vulnerable if any section was still crumbling. Just because their section was finished, they knew that in order for everyone to be safe all the walls needed to become one, big wall. That’s just being smart. That’s wisdom. How many times have we heard that we are only as strong as our weakest link? It’s true and it’s true that our church is only as strong as the wall of protection around it.
There are many people in our churches who need help building. Many people are still too vulnerable to attacks. Their foundation is barely started and they need help. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of teaching. People need to know the basics of building a strong foundation through prayer and Bible study and they need a side by side mentor that helps teach them the building process.
Others once had a magnificent wall, but sin, tragedy, or just the pounding of life has reduced it to a crumpled mess. We need to be faithful to help those dear ones clear that rubble away and rebuild. Christian counseling may be needed, forgiveness is often required and the clearing away of lifestyle choices can often help the rubble to be gone and the rebuilding to occur. This often takes time and effort. A fresh build is much more exciting than the clearing away of old debris, but it often takes rebuilding the old before the whole wall can be strong once again.
Then there are those who are building for all they are worth who need our protection. This is especially close to my heart right now because we have some friends who are being hit from every side imaginable. It’s not quite Job, but it’s getting there quickly. We need to be especially vigilant with these precious wall builders. Our wall is doing okay in the moment, our wall is standing strong, but our sweet brothers and sisters are being beat to death by the Enemy. They are trying to build, they are trying to learn, they are trying to keep the faith, but the fiery darts keep hitting their backs as they are trying to build.
Nehemiah 4 goes on to tell us that in order for the wall to be built and joined together, guards had to be stationed. Some would build and some would guard. Those building had their sword at the ready as well, but they knew someone else was guarding, so they were able to focus on building and not be as disctracted. They were encouraged to keep building because their fellow wall builders were taking the time to protect them. That is so beautiful to me.
That’s what we need to do for each other. Who in our churches needs to be guarded? Who can you hold your sword up for today? I’ll admit I look at my half built wall and think, “I still have so much work to do.” The sad fact is we will always have work to do. Our walls will never be finished completely, but God has called us to protect each other, to help everyone get their wall to the halfway point, to join all our walls together and become less vulnerable from attacks by the Enemy as a whole church fitly joined together (Ephesians 4:16).
That’s a wonderful picture isn’t it? Building and guarding. Building and guarding. Building and guarding. Loving each other like the family we are. Praying together as a true army and lifting our swords not just for ourselves, but even more readily for those around us. Let’s take the example in Nehemiah and make it true today. Let’s build, help, protect and love as we are called knowing that the vulnerable places in our brothers and sisters are our own. Knowing that buiding together is the only way our churches will be strong. Knowing that without the Master Builder we would all be lost. Knowing that our walls will never be perfect, but that fellow believers are raising their swords for our protection and we are raising our sword for theirs. May it be, Lord. May it be.