Division of Labor
Those of us who prize organization and efficiency can't help but be impressed by this meticulous division of labor. In a discussion of this event, authors and stewardship trainers Dave Sutherland and Kirk Nowery note the following:
John Wesley was once approached by one of his parishioners, an earnest man who felt his service was unimportant. 'If only I could preach like you, Mr. Wesley,' he said, 'I would be so happy and fulfilled.' Wesley replied, 'Sir, we are building God's temple. Go now and read the third chapter of Nehemiah and learn that he who repaired the dung gate was counted of as much honor as he who worked on the gate of the fountain. All did their bit; you and I can do no more.'
Wesley understood very well one of the most important tenets of stewardship, the Law of Constructive Contribution. This is a principle which tells us that the work of God is to be done by the people of God giving according to the will of God. We find examples of this principle in practice throughout the Bible, but perhaps the most memorable is the story of Nehemiah and the project to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem!
The Law of Constructive Contribution was ruling in [the people's] hearts, and they kept going in spite of all that stood in the way. In just 52 days, the wall was rebuilt and the people celebrated God's blessing and empowerment. If we look closely at their experience, the lessons are clearly applicable to us as stewards today:
Intensify your persistence in prayer. The waves of persecution never let up while rebuilding went on, but God's people had a stronger weapon: 'We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat' [Ne 4:9]. Exercising commons sense, they set up a defense. They did what was necessary to complement their prayers!
Expect difficulty when you do what's right. Great opportunity is often accompanied by great opposition. The apostle Paul said of the work in Ephesus, 'A great door for effective [work] has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me' [1Co 16:9]. He chose to think primarily about the great open door, not the daunting opponents!
Don't give up or give in. Nehemiah and the workers were invincible because they were in the very center of God's will. They would not give up or give in. Faced with deceit, distraction, and discouragement on all sides, they relied on God's power and he gave them the victory. God's promise to us is no different from the one those believers carried in their hearts. John's first epistle reminds us, 'You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world' [1Jn 4:4].