Build from the Bottom Up
I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work. - (Nehemiah 2:18)
I want to take one more look at the role of civil government before we finish this section of the devotional on the governments of the kingdom agenda. As I mentioned on a previous day, the role of the civil government is to promote justice in society so the individual, family, and church are able to fulfill their callings under God in an orderly and unencumbered manner. Civil government is to support and protect the biblical rights, freedoms, and purposes of the other divine institutions so that the atmosphere in which they function is conducive to their growth, freedom, and productivity. As such, the government is not to seek to replace, circumvent, or impede the proper functioning of the other institutional spheres through bureaucratic controls. Rather, it should assist them in whatever ways it can to enhance their ability to be more effective in accomplishing their divinely ordained purposes.
The is a great picture of this principle in action in Nehemiah 3, where Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city’s walls and restore community life. Nehemiah started the work from the bottom up. He started with individuals who recruited their families. Then he strategically stationed the families at a place on the wall near their own homes so that they would have a vested interest in the work (see v. 10). The priest (church) rallied, taught, and inspired the people (see chapter 8).
The government assisted the community revitalization program by giving a grant to pay for the wood needed for the building (see 2:8) and by providing protection for the builders (see 2:7, 9). But the civil government only helped with what the individuals, families, and spiritual community was already committed to do (see 2:18). Community development took place from the bottom up, not the top down.
Reflection: What need do you see in the world around you that seems too big for you to tackle? Do you have the skills or ability to do something in meeting the need? Where has God called you to support a work already in progress?
Father, I pray for our communities. I pray that You will raise up people to rebuild, restore, and transform our neighborhoods, schools, and our country. Please, Lord, start with me.
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