by Christopher Harbin

One And All
Christopher B. Harbin
Nehemiah 3:1-5, 27-32

Whose job is it? We often as the question in an attempt to diffuse responsibility, especially in regard to excusing ourselves from a specific task. We want to reduce our personal responsibilities for all sorts of efforts, allowing us to go through life without interrupting our lives by responding to issues which might delay us, distract us, or cause us some kind of discomfort. Should that really be our first reaction to recognizing a need or task to be addressed? Where do the limits of our responsibilities lie?

I saw a video a few weeks ago. A TV crew set us hidden cameras to watch customers walking through a shopping mall walk by a recyclable bottle on the floor next to a recycle bin. They watched person after person walk by the bottle, some changing their path to avoid the bottle on the ground. Finally, one woman stopped long enough to pick up the bottle and place it in the recycle bin. Over one hundred people then stood up to applaud her. She was one of very few individuals who took the time to notice something small that needed doing and assumed responsibility for doing what she could. Unfortunately, that is not a very common occurrence.

The job before the people in Jerusalem was no minor task. Nehemiah had no thought that he would be able to handle it on his own. It would have taken an exceedingly long time for that to have occurred, if it had even been possible. He knew it would require team effort. He never once spoke to the people of his accomplishing the task at hand. Instead, it was a question of the population as a whole assuming responsibility for the project at hand.

Once the people were on board with the project at hand, they divided up the work in sections. Each section of wall would be worked on by those who lived or worked closest to that section. The commoners, the tradesmen, the priests, and the Levites all had a hand in the process. It was a project to benefit the entire popul ...

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