A fifth would have suggested, with some warmth, that surely old inhabitants of the city were better judges of its requirements than a stranger, and that it was for the town council to propose such a scheme if they saw the necessity for it, and not for a new-comer who had been less than a week in Jerusalem.
These, and countless other objections, might have been raised, had the meeting been called in our lukewarm days.
But the Jerusalem committee did not act thus, they did not fill Nehemiah’s way with difficulties and his soul with discouragement. A plain bit of work lay before him and before them; he was ready to lead, and they were ready to follow. ‘Let us rise and build,’ they cry. And ‘they strengthened their hands for this good work.’
Let us take heed that we, as servants of Christ, follow their example. Let us never be seen with the bucket of cold water, ready to throw on the efforts of others for good. As ’iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.’ Let us ever be ready with the word of encouragement, with the helpful hand, with the cheering spirit of hope. There is work for us amongst the ruins of God’s fair world, and the labourers are few.
Let us then rise and build, each of us in earnest, each of us encouraging his brother, each of us looking beyond the discouragements of earth to the Master’s ‘Well done good and faithful servant.’
To Every Man his Work.
Once a year, in the University of Cambridge, there is a grand day called Commemoration Day. On that day, in the middle of the service, in each college chapel a list of honours is read out, a list containing the names of all those who, in times gone by, gave money or help to that college. The bodies of those whose names are read have many of them crumbled to dust long centuries ago, but their names are remembered still, remembered for what they have done; and that they may never be forgotten, they are publicly read aloud, year by year, on the great Commemoration Day.
Let us now take up God’s honour list, and see who are entered upon it. We shall find it filled with the names of those who have been dead more than 2000 years, but whose names are not forgotten; they stand out fair and clear in the Book of God, all are entered on the great list of honours, and are remembered for what they have done.
Where shall we find God’s great honour list? It is the list of all those who responded to Nehemiah’s appeal, and who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. In Neh. iii. we have a list of their names, not one is omitted. There those names have stood for 2000 years; there they will stand to the end of time. Brave men, noble men were those Jews, who, as soon as the scheme was laid before them, cried, ’Let us arise and build;’ and who not only responded by word of mouth, but who at once set to work to do what they had promised.