Monday, 05 December 2016 08:02

Work to Build, Prepare to Defend

Written by  Sam Whatley
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Much of life is about rebuilding. This is obvious the older you get. Once you are past forty something you start to realize that there is more sand at the bottom of your hourglass than there is at the top. When you are young you are trying to build your life. After middle age, you start trying to rebuild the walls that have fallen down from neglect. They may be walls of physical health, finances, family relationships, or your own spiritual walk with Christ. But those areas are going to require work and diligence to repair.


Recently I saw something in the Book of Nehemiah that gave me some perspective on rebuilding walls. Nehemiah came from Babylon to Jerusalem in 444 BC for the purpose of rebuilding the city walls torn down by the Babylonians. A hundred years earlier other Jews had returned to rebuild the temple, but the walls of the city were still piles of rubble. I had read this history before, but this time I saw something that I had missed earlier. As you work to build, prepare to defend your work.


As Nehemiah organized his fellow countrymen to take on this massive endeavor he was faced with two obstacles. The first one was how to get the work done. The other was just as real, the fear of neighboring tribes who perceived his project as a threat to them. They were ready to attack his men while they worked on the wall.


Nehemiah tells us:  From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. ... Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked (Nehemiah 4:16-18 NIV).


This may appear to be a very inefficient way to build a wall. But it was the only way. They were surrounded by enemies who saw their work as dangerous, something bad for their society.


The enemies of Christ in our society see the work of Christians the same way. If you dare to say that God’s Word is true and eternal, you are someone’s enemy. If you are too honest in your business dealings, your job or promotion may be at risk. If you work to keep unborn children from perishing, someone will hate you for it. If you care about the poor and the weak, someone will count you a fool.


But we must remember, these attacks do not come from other people, not really. As Paul tells us: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).


Even so, not all of our spiritual enemies are external. We are all tempted by lust, greed, laziness, addictions, gossip and a thousand other things that offend our Lord. Our enemy wants to discredit our witness for Christ, while he destroys our lives. He may not be able to snatch us from the hand of Christ, but he tempts us to be selfish and petty. He loves guilt and shame.


So, as we restore and rebuild the problem areas of our lives, we must defend ourselves while we work. Just as those other builders wore swords, we have to be armed with God’s Word, which Paul calls the sword of the Spirit. It must be in our hearts and hands. That is how we fight schemes to slow down, stop, and dismantle any progress we make for God’s Kingdom.


Being prepared for spiritual battle appears to take time away from the task at hand. It appears to make us less efficient in building. The time you spend in prayer to the Father and in studying His Word may look like time you could use doing something with more tangible results. But the opposite is true. As Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NIV).


Work, but prepare to defend. After all, our sand is running out every day.




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