As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
–1 Peter 4:10
In Nehemiah 11, Nehemiah singled out four groups of people who volunteered for God’s work in the city of Jerusalem. First of all, there were those who served in the temple. Verses 10-12 reference 822 people who did all kinds of things within the temple–dusting the altar, keeping the lights lit, taking care of the animals that would be used for sacrifice. These were people behind the scenes who did menial, but not meaningless, jobs for God. When I think of these people, I think about the people who work behind the scenes at the church I pastor: those who take care of our children, those who make our guests feel welcome, those who work on the sound or the lights or the internet. They give faithfully week after week to make our ministry possible.
The second group of volunteers were those who did ministry outside of the temple. They were involved in doing things like counseling or settling disputes. One of the phrases I hate that we use in Baptist circles all the time is somebody being “called to full-time Christian ministry.” Do you know what that means? It simply means they are getting their paycheck from the church. The fact is, we are all called to full-time Christian ministry. I have a friend who is a cardiologist. When his patients are getting ready to face serious surgery, he tells them, “I am going to do the very best job I can do for you, but if I am not successful, there is only one person who can take care of your eternity and that is Jesus Christ.” He is a bold witness for Christ. Does he have any less of a ministry than I do? Absolutely not. A. W. Tozer said, “It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.”
A third group of volunteers were those who prayed. Verse 17 mentions a man named Mattaniah, who led people to pray for the work of God. Maybe Mattaniah was not a gifted orator, or if he had stood up and tried to sing, people would have run for the exits. Maybe he did not work with his hands. But he could pray, so he led the people to pray. I would hate to think of what the church would be like if it were not for those men and women who are dedicated to prayer.
Finally, Nehemiah singled out those who led in worship through song. In verses 22-23, he mentioned the sons of Asaph, “who were the singers for the service of the house of God. For there was a commandment from the king concerning them and a firm regulation for the song leaders day by day.” What was the commandment from the king concerning these singers? They were to be paid–in other words, they were honored for what they did in leading in worship. These were the four groups that Nehemiah singled out for doing God’s work.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Declaration Of Dependence” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
A. W. Tozer, “The Pursuit Of God,” in “A. W. Tozer: Three Spiritual Classics In One Volume” (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2018), 333.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org