Another list. Another urge to skim read. Another reason not to.
Nehemiah 3 is all about rebuilding the gates and walls of Jerusalem and from verse one to verse 32, it always reads the same: This gate was “repaired by” or “were made by” and then a man or a group of men would be mentioned. Or someone had “laid beams” or “installed” bolts. Well, almost always. Two verses differ in this litany of labor.
The first is verse 5 which reads, “Next were the people of Tekoa, though their leaders refused to work with the construction supervisors” (emphasis mine).
And then right in the middle of the chapter, verse 20, which states: “Next to him was Baruch son of Zabbia, who zealously repaired an additional section from the angle to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest” (emphasis mine).
Three things to note here. First, a lot of people worked on those walls and gates. A lot of them are mentioned by name. A lot of people did their job, willingly and well. However, more important to note are the next two points. First, one group of people received a negative notation. The leaders of the people from Tekoa who refused to cooperate with the building supervisors. Whether they affected their people or the progress of the reconstruction we don’t know. We just know they were a problem.
Third, only one person, Baruch son of Zabbai, receives a commendation. Baruch zealously repaired. And even more important, Baruch didn’t zealously repair the portion he was assigned. He zealously repaired an additional section.
True we should not work to impress man (Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men”), but we should remember that people are watching, and in many cases (like this one) literally taking note.
So as we enter the new year, let us remember we have choices. First let us choose to do our assigned jobs willingly and efficiently. Then let us try hard not to be remembered for being uncooperative and difficult, but instead when the opportunity arises, let's be the 2020 version of Baruch son of Zabbia. Let us willingly take on additional work and we do that work with zeal.
Happy New Year!