You may have noticed my tendency to frequently include a particular phrase of encouragement in concluding my personal replies to your emails. I like to say, “Keep up the great work!” While this expression is obviously meant to boost your spirits and cheer you on, it also has a deeper, more spiritual meaning as well.
The Old Testament book of Nehemiah recounts the story of a Jewish man (Nehemiah) who lived in Persia during a time when Jerusalem was conquered and the city was burned and left desolate. He was an important member of King Artaxerxes’ court and evidently also had a personal friendship with the King. Because of this close relationship, he was allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city walls. He faced opposition to this task from Judah’s enemies on all sides – Samaritans, Arabs, Ammonites and Philistines. Remarkably, Jerusalem’s massive walls were rebuilt in just 52 days.
Those who opposed Nehemiah were angry and threatening. At various times they tried to distract those who were laboring to build the walls by mocking, threatening, and attacking them. The faith of those who were working on this great project was inspiring:
“For the people had a mind to work” (Neh. 4:6).
“Be ye not afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible…” (Neh. 4:14).
“They which builded on the wall… every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon” (Neh. 4:17).
The record even states that Nehemiah said at one point, “Neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing.” (Neh. 4:23). Wow, they were focused! No wonder they were able to do such a great work, and successfully accomplish their purpose in such a short time!
At one point the enemies of Nehemiah sent to him four times, asking him to come down from the wall and, “meet together in some one of the villages in the plain.” Each time, his answer was the same, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” (Neh. 6:3).
Can you imagine what can be accomplished by our 200 missionaries in the Taiwan Taichung Mission with that kind of single-minded dedication and determination? Let us ever guard against contention, pride, disobedience, and a host of other distractions that would have us come away from our great work. Let us hasten the work of salvation with all our focus and might!
Keep up the great work!
Mentor of Champions