Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the sheep gate; they sanctified it…
Unity in diversity seems to be the principle on which God works both in the natural and spiritual world — a truth which is capable of almost endless illustration.
I. We see it, for instance, IN AN INDIVIDUAL CHURCH. What a variety of mental constitution and habits of thought; what difference in training, in education, and, consequently, in apprehension of spiritual things, and also in time, opportunity and social influence, among individual members. Yet where there is the quickening breath of the Spirit of God, there will be unity in the work while there is diversity in the operations. Thus one man is called to preach, another to take charge of the finances; while each takes his own part and seeks by God's help to discharge his individual responsibility, there must be a chord of sympathy between all the workers, for they "are members one of another."
II. The same is true of THE DIFFERENT SECTIONS INTO WHICH THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS STILL UNHAPPILY DIVIDED.
III. We may go farther and apply this truth to THE MANY EFFORTS THAT ARE NOW BEING PUT FORTH ALL OVER THE WORLD. Among the nations of Europe there are zealous workers, and we must bear them up before God in believing prayer. They are working on the same wall, though on different parts of it. And there are indirect workers, too, whom we must not fail to recognise. The philanthropist, the temperance reformer, those engaged in educational, charitable, and other movements which tend to benefit the masses of the people — they also are engaged in building the wall. We must enlarge our sympathies and rejoice in every man who seeks to do honest work for God. We must not forget, however, that while there was oneness in the work, there was individuality in its different parts. The work being great, it was subdivided, and each man had a special portion allotted to him, generally that which lay nearest to his own dwelling. There is work there if he will only look for it under the guidance of God's Spirit. About twenty years ago a youth in whose heart lay the fervent desire to preach to the heathen, stood in a crowded assembly listening to a popular preacher. "You think," said the speaker, "of a group of blacks gathered under the wide-spreading banian tree, and you imagine how you could discourse to them of the wondrous love of Christ. Ah I my brother, begin at home; try it in the streets of London first." It was a word in season; the young man began to build over against his house; God blessed him to the conversion of hundreds of souls, and He is blessing him still. In Christian work, too, we may see that the selfish instinct is recognised — not the selfishness which robs God and glorifies self, but that which leads a worker to be interested in his own department of work as he can be in no other. In this sense there is a selfishness which is not sinful, and which we may almost say is not selfish. If kept in due subordination to thoughts of the oneness of the work, it is commendable and ought to be cultivated. How often in conversation with a brother worker have we failed to gain his close attention while we spoke to him of our work or the work of other brethren! But when we asked about his congregation, his mission-room, or his Sunday or ragged school, what a change! His tongue was loosed, and his whole face glowed with animation as he told us how the Lord was helping and blessing him. It is both natural and right that it should be so. He is building before his own door, and while not ignoring others, he thinks of the work over against his house as he can of no other part of the wall. His heart is specially there. From the portions of work allotted to the individual citizens, we may learn also the importance of concentration in Christian effort. Had a man put a brick here, and a daub of mortar there, and laid a beam yonder, the wall would have made but slow progress; but as one man built before his own door, and another before his, and so on all round the city, the attention and energy of each were concentrated upon his special portion, and the wall rapidly approached completion. Now, concentration is an important principle in Christian work as well as in the building of a Wall, and if we look back on the history of the Church, we shall find that the greatest results have been achieved by men who have continuously bent their energies towards a given point. It is the fashion in our day rather to decry "men of one idea." This fashion is much promoted by men of no idea, who are jealous of brethren more fortunate than themselves. This principle is important in reference not only to the object of life, but to the sphere of labour. It is of greater consequence to do one thing well than many things indifferently. Diffusion seems to be the aim of many workers in this restless age, and breadth rather than depth is characteristic of their efforts.
(W. P. Lockhart.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel.
WEB: Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up its doors; even to the tower of Hammeah they sanctified it, to the tower of Hananel.