I love the part of Nehemiah, in chapter four, when Nehemiah commands the families who are rebuilding the walls to grab both a sword and a trowel, and to rotate between who works and who stands guard. It’s a wonderful picture of the Christian life – one that Charles Spurgeon captured well in his classic publication, The Sword and the Trowel. God calls us to be workers and fighters.
The New Testament often calls us “laborers” and talks about how our efforts and our energies are to be spent for the glory of God, but He also calls us “soldiers” and challenges us to “fight the good fight of faith.” Building and fighting are two of the most common pictures of the Christian life presented to us in Scripture.
We build churches. We build lives. This is the thought conveyed by [youversion]1 Corinthians 3:9-15[/youversion], that Jesus Christ is the perfect foundation, and each of us has the responsibility of building something upon that foundation. Each of us finds ourselves somewhere around the wall that we’re building together, with a trowel in our hand.
Every time you encourage and teach, every time you counsel, every time you preach, you are building lives. You are building the church up and edifying it. Keep working. Keep learning to wield the trowel more skillfully.
We stand in defense of the gospel against attack. We storm the gates of hell and take more territory for the kingdom of God. We fight off temptation. We strive, we wrestle. These are the images of the spiritual turmoil that enwraps the Christian life. We are builders, but we must be fighters too.
Here’s the challenge – keep building, and keep fighting. Stand before the judgment seat someday, battered and worn with calloused hands. Keep up the fight. Keep up the work. Take up your sword and your trowel and get busy!