Our number one motivation
2Corinthians 5: Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing.
Having described himself as a “clay jar” the Apostle is well aware of his inadequacies. The day’s coming, he says, when these “tents” (that is our earthly bodies) will shut down and be replaced by bodies of heavenly construction. The weaknesses we deal with every day even to the point that we come to think of them as ordinary and acceptable will be gone forever, replaced by that which is amazingly superior. Paul says that we get just a taste of what it will be like as we enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As good as that is, it’s just a small sample of what’s coming. With such exciting prospects you’d think that that’s what Paul would think about all the time and that if he’s asked what motivates him his answer will focus on making the big move from the “tent to the palace.” Make no mistake; he likes thinking about it all. However, the big deal for him isn’t “exile or homecoming.” Rather, he declares, the big thing is pleasing God in all his life. His greatest motivation is the knowledge that there’s a way to live in this life that’s pleasing to God. There’s a possibility of standing before the Lord and hearing him say “well done.” For Paul, the big deal isn’t pie in the sky as much as it’s pleasing the Father in this life. Going to heaven is huge, no doubt about it. However, pleasing the Lord, our Creator and Master, according to Paul, is even bigger.
Take Away: When we live to please the Lord we’re living as we were designed to live.
The Dung Gate
Nehemiah 3: The Dung Gate itself was rebuilt by Malkijah son of Recab.
As the work begins on the big wall rebuilding project, Nehemiah, as general contractor, takes us on a tour of the job site. This is a huge undertaking so he’s organized the leading families of Jerusalem to take on different sections of the wall, including some who are rebuilding the gates to the city. We meet Hanun and his team who are rebuilding the Valley Gate and then we come to Malkijah and his crew. Malkijah is an important person among the returned exiles; in fact, he’s the mayor of the nearby district of Beth Hakkerem.
Just a second, it looks as though Malkijah is taking a short break, maybe we can have a word with him, “Excuse me, your honor, do you have a second?”
“Sure, but not long mind you; there’s work to be done.”
“Being such an important person in Jerusalem, I imagine you have an important gate to rebuild. So tell me about this gate…is it one of the historic royal gates, used only for the king?”
He smiles and shakes his head.
“Maybe it’s used for religious purposes, like the Sheep Gate…or for commerce?”
Malkijah grins at us, “This, my friends, is none other than the Dung Gate.”
We’re somewhat taken back by this. “Do you mean this gate is primarily used for human waste disposal?” We’re surprised that this important man is rebuilding such a lowly gate.
Then Malkijah son of Recab, mayor of Beth Hakkerem says, “But it is an important gate – it’s important because it’s being rebuilt in the Name of the Lord. Anything you do in his Name is a worthy effort.”
As we rejoin the tour we find ourselves thinking about our attitude toward some of the more lowly things we do in the Name of the Lord.
Take Away: If the Lord gives us a task, for us, that task is the most important one in the world.