I was reading in the book of Nehemiah recently and came across a single word in a single verse that has been convicting me for a couple of weeks now. Nehemiah 3 talks about a bunch of individuals working on various parts of the wall during the rebuilding of Jerusalem. It’s some pretty dry reading if I’m honest. The one verse that stood out to me though, was verse 20. “After him Baruch the son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the angle to the doorway of the house of Eliashib the high priest” (NASB). If you read through the whole chapter, you’ll see basically the same sentence with a different worker and a different part of the wall in each verse with one exception. No other verse includes the word ‘zealously.’ This may seem like a minor detail, but it’s in the scripture, so I think God put it there for a reason. This Baruch guy worked so hard that Nehemiah (under the inspiration of God) felt compelled to declare that he had worked zealously.
Now it’s important to note that in the next chapter Nehemiah tells us that the men building this wall are building with one hand and holding their swords in their other hand because they could be attacked by their enemies at any moment. If you ask me, I’d say that every single worker there had a zealous commitment to the work at hand, but only Baruch was called out. In fact, the word zeal doesn’t even show up anywhere else in the entire book of Nehemiah. There isn’t an explanation as to why God sees fit to call out Baruch in this way, it just says he zealously repaired. Baruch isn’t given a backstory or much mention at all elsewhere and I don’t remember reading about him anywhere else in the Bible, but here he is called zealous.
I’ve been convicted about this verse the last couple of weeks. It’s caused me to ask some questions.
Am I doing whatever work I do with the kind of commitment that is fitting for one who serves Almighty God?
Am I giving Him my all?
Am I serving Him to the extent that if I were to be mentioned today it would be said that I served zealously?
Reading about the labor done by this entire group makes me feel weak at the thought of serving zealously when compared to those around me. I can never be that exceptional. That’s not the point though. Baruch wasn’t comparing himself to those working on the wall around him. He simply worked his part of the wall. As zealously as he may have worked, all he did was his part. This was likely the greatest trial of his life and he stood up and faced it with zeal!
What is your trial?
What is your part of the wall?
What is the labor God has called you to today?
Is there a way that you can do it with more fervor for God?
We’ll all fall short at some point, but the least we can do for the God of the universe is give Him our best. Who knows? Maybe one day God will call you zealous too.