The Christian Home and Work
So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work. (Nehemiah 4:6)
NEHEMIAH WAS A JEWISH CAPTIVE who was the cupbearer to Artaxerxes, king of Persia. He had the dangerous job of protecting the king by tasting the king’s food and drink before the king had any of it. If no ill effect occurred to Nehemiah, then the king would have some. The king would have to trust his cupbearer not to poison him. This close relationship produced a close bond between the two. Nehemiah was like a member of the family.
THE KING STUDIED EVERYTHING ABOUT HIS CUP-BEARER so that he knew his mood by looking at his face. The cup-bearer had to be cheerful and uplifting to the king so that he was not an emotional burden on the king. The king had enough weight on him without bearing the weight of a distraught cup-bearer. A cup-bearer could be dismissed or even lose his life if he came into the king’s presence down in the dumps, with a grumpy disposition.
ONE DAY NEHEMIAH CAME INTO THE KING'S ROOM WITH A SAD FACE. A messenger had visited him and told him that Jerusalem was in very bad shape. The king picked up on it and asked Nehemiah what was going on. Fearfully, Nehemiah explained it to the King. Artaxerxes liked Nehemiah and ended up giving Nehemiah some time off to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall around it.
In our text today, we have a statement about their progress on the wall. It was half-way up, because the Jews who were building the wall “had a mind to work.” When the wall was finished, they had done the whole job in just 52 days; a little less than two months.
I’M REMINDED OF JOSEPH IN EGYPT when he brought his family to Egypt to live in the land of Goshen. Pharaoh had great respect for Joseph and asked him about his family. When Pharaoh learned that they were herdsmen by profession, Pharaoh said: The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle. (Genesis 47:6)
Pharaoh knew what it took to get things done: men of activity. My daddy was like that. He finished the eighth grade and “was a hustler.” He owned and operated a sawmill and he had to have men working for him who were “hustlers.” That was a common word in his day that meant “he moved!” I heard my dad use that word many times in talking with other men. He always wanted to know if a man was a hustler.
“Work” occurs 420 times in the Bible. It is God’s will that we work. The Bible tells the lazy person to study the ant that works hard.
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. (Proverbs 6:6-11)
I typed the above verses on a 3x5 card and required all of my children to memorize them. We went over them again and again, for several weeks. Usually, I just gave them a verse or two per week. This card had six verses on it, so we took extra time to get them memorized.
Did you ever scrape the top off an ant hill? They’re all moving. I had to tackle a 12” ant hill this past week. It’s amazing how thousands of ants can work together and build a hill, digging tunnels and moving so much dirt to the top and capping off their city. They work. They work smart.
A CHRISTIAN HOME SHOULD TEACH THE CHILDREN TO WORK at things suitable for them. By the time they are 4-5 years old, they are old enough to do little jobs that have to be done and then praised to the roof top for the good job they did!
At our house with four children, we had a posting place where the jobs were posted for each one. Each day, when the assigned job was done, they got a gold star for a job well-done. We taught them how to do the job and why it was important to do it.
When they were in their teens, they began to work at Burger Chef and the Kroger Super-Market. One day at supper, one of them who worked at Kroger’s, said: “Dad, I don’t believe some of the young people at Kroger’s know how to work.” My response was: “Really? Tell me about it.”
WE NOTICE IN OUR TEXT THAT the “people had a mind to work.” That’s where the work ethic comes from: the mind. Teach a child to work at things they can do and teach them to do it well. It becomes a way of life and will serve them well.
At our house during my early years, the Great Depression was on. I remember the 8-10 (sometimes more) men who worked at Dad’s mill “up in the hollow.” They ate at our table and slept in a bunk house in the back yard, built out of sawmill slabs. My mother fed them breakfast and supper at our table and packed them a man-size lunch in a lard bucket.
EVERYBODY AT OUR HOUSE WORKED. That’s what we did. I never thought of it as a hardship. Mama also raised a garden and canned a lot of veggies for the winter. At five, I was in charge of bean bugs and potato bugs. With a little can of kerosene, I worked the rows of plants and dropped the bugs into the kerosene. It was a big deal!
I also helped with dishwashing (duly trained). Mama turned a cane-bottom chair backwards and moved it close to the table. I stood on my knees in the chair. She handed me the dishes as she washed them in hot water with lye soap. I rinsed them in another pan of water and dried them and set them on the table. Nobody ever told me how that was “child labor.” Everybody had a job to do.
We rested an hour and it was time to begin supper for the sawmill workers. Boy could they put away the groceries, heavy in potatoes and cornbread. Our beverage was fresh water out of the well. (No electricity. No refrigeration.) Daddy was always working at the sawmill (until we went bankrupt in 1938 and lost it.)
MY MOTHER NEVER PUSHED ME or “worked me down” or fussed at me. She taught me and let me do what I could. As I grew, she gave me bigger jobs and more responsibility. She had taught school for a while after she finished the 8th grade. She was a good teacher. Our contact with the outside world was church and the daily newspaper, the Nashville Banner delivered a day late. Mama read the paper front to back.
She saved the papers and in the fall the papers were used for wallpaper. When I took an afternoon nap, I enjoyed looking at all the display ads: new Chevrolet cars ($759) or “Walking a mile for a Camel cigarette.” Teaching children, gently, how to work is good for them. Eventually I got to draw water out of the well and milk the cow and ride the mules home from the field to the water barrel. It’s all about growing up in a Christian home. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
FEBRUARY 21, 2018 – WEDNESDAY
A.M. Numbers 5-6 P.M. Mark 4:1-20
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Verses to Memorize:
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Song for Today:
This World is Not My Home (2:11) (Men’s Trio - Calvary Mem. Church)
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