So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together to the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.
We have here —
I. CO-OPERATION. "The people had a mind to work." Nehemiah was, of course, the ruling spirit. He was only one man, but he was one of those men who count for thousands. He was one of those men who not only embody but create the spirit of an age and lead it on to victory. He was only one man, but in this world men have not to be counted but weighed; and it is when men are weighed — weighed as to their intellect, their convictions, their courage, their principles, their self-denial — that it is seen that one man is not as good as another. All the great epochs of the world have gathered around one man, just as the restoration gathered around Nehemiah, and so filled his soul that the electric power of his patriotic purpose enkindled the hearts of the people with a flame that never expired till the work was done. Then as ever, it was seen that the world's work must be done by a combination of men who toil with the brain and who toil with the hands. Nehemiah was architect, clerk of the works, diplomatist, general, all in one. But he could have done nothing unless he had been able to secure the co-operation of the people. There is here a lesson on the value and the necessity of co-operation in work for Christ. Success in war is due to two principles — the one is divide your enemy, and the other is unite yourselves. On these two conditions success is certain. Real and vital co-operation in Church work will be equally successful. There may be a Church and no co-operation. It may be a mass, but not a body. Many individual men do far more than a society, because the individual men work, and the society does not, but thinks that it has fulfilled all its duty when it has appointed a committee, with its usual complement of officers. You would think that an army had strangely misconceived its mission if because it saw its staff-officers it lay down and left the fortunes of battle to be settled by them. But this is just what is done by societies which devolve on committees the whole work.
II. CHEERFUL RESOLUTION. There is a great deal of work done in our world, and has always been, in which there has been no mind at all, either in the shape of intelligence or goodwill. I suppose that some of the greatest structures of the world were so built — the Pyramids, the great aqueducts of Rome and the Coliseum. The slaves had not a mind to work, but had an eye to the rod of the taskmaster. You will search this book in vain for the trace of a taskmaster. They had a mind to work, and not to criticise or cavil. This is a suggestive warning to all such characters in our day. Many have a mind only to think, and not to work. You ask them to come and set their shoulder to the wheel, but they prefer to spend their time in solving, so far as they can, sundry theological or religious fiddles. H by their thinking they accomplished anything, then they might think on, but they are like a corn-mill, the stones of which are perpetually revolving, but there is no corn between them, and so they only grind themselves. More doubts are removed and more difficulties are solved by working than by thinking. "If any man will do the will of God," etc. Some people have a mind to speak, but not to work. Speech is good enough in its place. The end of all talk should be action. As a rule most work is done where there is least noise. When a machine goes noiselessly, it means that the friction is reduced to the smallest possible quantity, and that the force is not wasted on the process, but comes out in the accomplished work. At the building of Babel there was far more noise than at the building of the temple, but the temple was the successful work. Their heart was in their work, and by their heart we mean chiefly their purpose and their cheerfulness. He that works without a will is nothing better than a machine, and may be worse. When people have a mind to work there will be no unseemly ambitions, no quarrels for posts of honour. The man who can lighten labour with a song is likely to be a good worker. He will be like a soldier, who marches best to the rhythmic throb of the drum, and to the sounds of inspiring music. As to Christian work, none can be entitled to such a name unless it be cheerful. God loveth, we are told, not a giver, but a "cheerful" giver. If we show mercy we are to show it cheerfully. We are to serve the Lord with gladness. We are to come into His presence with songs. Saints are to be joyful in the Lord.
III. WORK CROWNED WITH SUCCESS.
(Enoch Mellor, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.