church life, encouragement, encouraging others, helping each other, helping others, helping people, how to encourage, how to help each other, how to serve together, mentoring, nehemiah, protecting each other, serving together, ways to help, weaker Christians, Zephaniah
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 throughout the book and of course the strategy…I love it all.
When I came across Nehemiah 4:6 a while back, I focused on “for the people had a mind to work”. After all, that’s usually what pastors preach about, isn’t it? This time 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 people within 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 everyone desires. They build great walls of protection around their loved ones through prayer, standing firmly on God’s Word and depending on the Holy Spirit. 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. At times, they’ve trusted in things besides their Lord. They sometimes forget to pray when an attack comes. They may not have as much Scripture memorized and they often forget to rely on the Holy Spirit. 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 the 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 they were still vulnerable if any section of the wall was crumbling. Just because their section was finished, they realized in order for everyone to be safe all the separate 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. It’s also 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 the enemy’s attacks. Their foundation is barely started and they need help.
Oftentimes, it’s just a matter of teaching. People need to know the basics of building a strong foundation through prayer and Bible study, but they also need a side by side mentor that helps teach them the building process.
Others in our churches once had a magnificent wall, but sin, tragedy, or just the pounding of life has reduced it to a crumbling mess. We need to be faithful to help those dear ones clear the 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 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, but 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 over and over again. They can’t build because they are too busy defending.
Later in Nehemiah 4, Scripture tells 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 distracted. They were encouraged to keep building because their fellow wall builders were taking the time to protect them.
Imagine that…guarding each other so everyone’s section of wall can be built. That’s beautiful. That’s what we need to do for one another and Nehemiah is a beautiful picture of Zephaniah 3:9. This is what it says, “Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder.”
Serving shoulder to shoulder. That’s what it’s all about. Protecting each other and helping each other to build no matter what task that may include.
So, 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 will become our own if left in a state of rubble. Knowing that building 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.
Beautiful! Absolutley beautiful. Now, let’s get out there and actually do it.