January 28, 2023
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
Nehemiah - "The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulder to the work under their supervision… Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of the half district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters… Next to him, Baruch, son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section from the Angle to the entrance of the house of Eliashib, the high priest." (Nehemiah 3:5, 12, 20)
People say hard work is its own reward, but it’s always nice to be recognized. Throughout Nehemiah chapter three, Nehemiah acknowledged several people for their hard work and accomplishments. This chapter is not a boring list of people, but a great honor role of faith. Some might even say that recognition was the central purpose of the chapter. In this list, Nehemiah is giving credit where credit is due. These people made such an impact that 3,000 years later, on the opposite side of the world, we still remember them.
If those Nehemiah recognized had not served so faithfully, we would have no idea who they were and what they had done. In this scripture passage, there are 48 individual names of people who Nehemiah said did a good job and Nehemiah obviously knew each one of them personally by name - that’s the mark of a good leader. It’s important for those of us who supervise others to develop various ways to let people know that they’re doing a good job.
Even though Nehemiah indicates that everyone did a good job, he especially notices a few. In verse 20, Nehemiah writes, "Next to him, Baruch, son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section from the Angle to the entrance of the house of Eliashib, the high priest." The word “zealously” is the only descriptive word in the entire chapter. Everyone did their work, but Baruch enthusiastically did his work. We don’t know exactly how he was zealous about his work. Maybe he worked hard, or worked long hours, or sang worship songs while he worked, but he must have been noticeably enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is the Greek word that means "God possessed.” When you're possessed by God you're going to be enthusiastic.
In verse 12, Nehemiah writes that "Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of the half district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters." What makes this so special is that in those days, women did not usually transport bricks and mortar. Even if they did, women were never recognized. But Nehemiah recognized that these ladies worked hard and did a good job. So he made a point of giving them public recognition.
However, in verse 5, Nehemiah writes, "The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulder to the work under their supervision." All of these years later, while all of these others are honored for what they DID do, these “nobles” are remembered for what they DID NOT do. What a terrible epitaph! Billions of Bible readers over thousands of years have read that these men weren’t willing to work.
The Apostle Paul once wrote, “Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) If you’re serving on a team, give yourself fully to your work. If you’re a leader and one of your team members is doing great work, make it a point to recognize them in a meaningful way as soon as possible.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Make a list of three people who you have noticed serving in a good or enthusiastic manner. Make a plan to recognize them in the next few days. If you’re leading your family through this devotion, spend a few minutes acknowledging each family member for the things they do well. Then encourage them to do the same with others over the next few days.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, help me to always do my best. And help me to honor others who deserve recognition as well. In the name of Jesus, Amen.