|Volume 20 Number 1 January 2018||
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah depict the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple of God by the remnant returning from captivity. First, the Temple was rebuilt. Many years later, the walls around Jerusalem remained in ruin (Nehemiah 1:3; 2:3). Nehemiah gained permission from the king and returned to Jerusalem. He motivated the people to rebuild. With everyone working together, the wall was repaired around the whole city to half of its needed height. Nehemiah stated the work occurred because “the people had a mind to work” (4:6).
Jesus Had a Mind to Work
Like the people rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Jesus demonstrated a mind to work. The Gospel accounts record the work of Jesus from the beginning of His ministry following His baptism (Matthew 3:13-17) until after His death, burial, resurrection and ascension (Matthew 27:35-28:20; Acts 1:3-11). Jesus spent these three years traveling around the region, teaching the need for repentance and preparing all who would listen about the coming of the church. He told His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38; see also Luke 10:2; John 4:35). Jesus wanted His disciples to work in the kingdom. The job He wanted them to do was the same job Christ had while on earth, “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
The Early Church Had a Mind to Work
Like Jesus and the people rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the early church had a mind to work. After the church began, as recorded in Acts 2, the first Christians “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). A few verses later, the text states, “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Since salvation comes from hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17) and obeying it in baptism (Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21), evidently the Christians in Jerusalem were working to teach others. The church continued to grow (Acts 6:1). Soon thereafter, persecution scattered the Christians. As they moved away from the persecution in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1; 11:19), they “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).
The writings of Paul show that the early church continued to work. In Philippians 2:25-30, Paul wrote of Epaphroditus who nearly died doing the “work of Christ.” The church at Colosse was “bringing forth fruit” (Colossians 1:3-8) and the faith of the church at Rome was “spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8). The first letter to the church at Thessalonica begins with Paul giving thanks for their “work of faith, labor of love” (1:2-3). The last chapter of Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 2 Timothy and the last few verses of Philemon all contain praise for individual Christians and entire congregations of the Lord’s people busy working for the Lord.
Paul Had a Mind to Work
Paul praised many for their work in the Lord, but he also demonstrated a mind to work. The first of his journeys to preach the Word is recorded in Acts 13-14. Paul’s second journey is recorded in Acts 15:36-18:22. Paul made a third trip to work with the churches as recorded in Acts 18:23; 19:1-21:15. Paul never gave up as he worked tirelessly to teach others. In 2 Corinthians 11:22-28, one can read of the many things Paul suffered in his work for the Lord. Near the end of his life, he acknowledged all the trials and efforts were not in vain. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Christians Today Need a Mind to Work
Like the many examples already provided, Christians today need a mind to work. Matthew 28:18-20 reads, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Though this command was given directly to the apostles, verses like 2 Timothy 2:2 show us that this command applies to Christians today as well. Notice the command from Christ instructed the apostles and us to teach others in a way that leads to obedience in baptism. The command does not end there. Baptism is to be followed by more instruction in the Word. Second Timothy 2:15 tells Christians to study; Paul told the Corinthian brethren he had to feed them milk instead of solid food—basic principles instead of deeper truths (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). The writer of Hebrews made a similar statement about his readers. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14). The first work of Christians today is to study God’s Word, followed by teaching that Word to others.
There are many other ways Christians today can show they have a mind to work. Living a faithful Christian life (1 Timothy 4:12; James 1:27; Revelation 2:10) is just the beginning. How one acts and speaks (Romans 12:1-2; James 1:21-22; 3:10) when away from the church building is just as much a part of living faithfully as participating in all aspects of the worship service with the saints at every opportunity (Acts 20:7; Hebrews 10:25). Each local congregation needs members with a mind to work. Men qualified as elders, along with their faithful wives, are needed for a congregation to be fully organized as God intended (Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Qualified deacons support the elders in seeing that needed tasks are done (1 Timothy 3:8-13). Most congregations struggle to find men willing to teach adult and teen classes as well as women willing to teach children’s Bible classes. Whether it is providing meals to shut-ins, sending cards, visiting others or a myriad of other tasks, participating in such activities shows a mind to work for the Lord.
Nehemiah and the people worked together to complete the huge task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Jesus, the early church and Paul demonstrated a mind to work. Jesus commanded us to work, and Paul explained that Christians are to follow his example as he followed the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1; see also 1 Peter 2:21). When Christians today have a mind to work, the Word will spread, and the church will grow (1 Corinthians 3:6). Do you have a mind to work?
Martha Lynn Rushmore
We as humans worry about so many things. We worry about this and that. We worry about our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren (no matter how young or old they are), our spouses, our jobs, our health and anything else. We can worry if it is going to be rainy, snowy, warm, cold or sunny. We have no control over the weather, no control over our grown children, our spouses and especially the weather. We worry about what others think of us. Some of our worries may be valid, but most of the time, we have no control as to the outcome—good or bad.
Unfortunately, if we do not have anything over which to worry or fret, we then get ourselves all worked up because everything is going so well. We wonder when the other shoe is going to drop and something bad will happen. Our anxiousness is over much ado about nothing.
We are told in the “Serenity Prayer”: (1) to change the things we can, (2) to accept the things we cannot change and (3) to know the difference. In other words, if I cannot change the situation, let it go. God is in control.
We are told in Matthew 6:25-32 that, we are not to worry about what we are going to eat, what we are going to wear and where we are going to stay. God takes care of the birds, flowers and grass. We are much more important than these things. God will take care of us. We are only promised today—right now. Do not worry about yesterday, it is over, and you cannot change it. Do not worry about tomorrow, it is not here yet, and we are not promised it will come.
Philippians 4:6-7 reads, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We are to turn our problems over to God. We do not generally turn to the Lord until we have exhausted all else. We should go to God in prayer at the start of our problems. We should also be praying to God even when things are going well.
In Matthew 6:33, we are told to seek God and His kingdom first. If we do as God has instructed us, He will take care of us. This is not to say we will never have any hardships. Yet, with God’s help, we can handle anything! So, let us all do as we have been instructed by God in His Word. I understand this is much easier said than done, but with God all things are possible. In Philippians 4:13, we are told that we can do anything through Christ who strengthens us.
I am not saying that we should not be concerned about different things in our lives. I am saying that we are not to worry to the point we make ourselves sick. Also, we should not to be so miserable that we make all those around us miserable.
The best solution to this problem is to turn our worries over to God through prayer. How do we do this or face our worries? First, pray to God for help. Second, ask others for prays. Third, pray to God some more.