Scripture: Acts 6:4 CEB
“As for us, we will devote ourselves to prayer and the service of proclaiming the word.”
One of the more interesting stories in the Bible has to do with a gate. Nehemiah asked to go back to his homeland, Jerusalem, and rebuild the wall of the city. The basic premise is that the broken down wall of Jerusalem was a disgrace to the Jewish people. They had been soundly defeated and given into the hands of the enemy. After years of being split up and indoctrinated into the enemy culture Nehemiah was still upset about the condition of Jerusalem and her wall. He was so upset that he risked his life to ask the enemy king to allow him to go and rebuild the wall. Of course, we know that the king allowed for this work to be done. Nehemiah brought the people together and they began to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. The fact that it remained in ruins was a huge source of disgrace for the people of God. Nehemiah would be the one called to change that.
However, this is not the more interesting story to which I refer. Nehemiah gets all of the attention in the story. I mean the book is named after him. But there is one unsung hero that catches my attention in the Nehemiah story. His name is Malchiah. Malchiah was responsible for a section of the wall called “the Dung Gate.” Yes, it is what it sounds like it is. This was the gate through which all of the city’s refuse, more clearly the cities dung, was taken out of the city and burned. The Book of Nehemiah mentions 10 gates by name including the Dung Gate. All of the gates had a purpose. All of them more glamorous than the Dung Gate. But Malchiah was put in charge of rebuilding the Dung Gate. We have no record of him complaining or asking to be assigned to another gate. Malchiah simply went about the business of rebuilding the Dung Gate. Every day he would get up and head out to work on his gate. When the wall was complete and Nehemiah and the people of Israel celebrated … they couldn’t have done that without Malchiah and his Dung Gate.
So why share that story? Because sometimes in life it seems like we are assigned to the Dung Gate. The nasty smelly Dung Gate! We want to be assigned to a better part of rebuilding the wall. The truth is wherever God places us is important. The Dung Gate was just as important as any other part of the wall. Without the Dung Gate the wall would not have been complete. In Acts chapter six the Apostles are in need of caring for those in need. They realize that they have been given the role of leadership. They also realize that if they stop to provide mercy ministry to the people they will be unable to perform the work to which God had called them. So they assign seven other people to do the work of mercy ministry. They then proclaim, “As for us, we will devote ourselves to prayer and the service of proclaiming the word.” That was their role.
Everyone has a role in the kingdom work of the church. Some are given gifts to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some shepherds, and some teachers. What is your role? It may just be a Dung Gate kind of role. It may also be rebuilding some other part of the wall. It may be to help others in their time of greatest need. It is possible you are called to devote yourself to prayer and sharing the gospel. Spend some time today praying about your role in God’s kingdom work. You will find it incredibly freeing to understand where God is calling you to serve. All of the work of the kingdom is important, but when you know that to which you are called there is great clarity. When someone asks you to serve in an area where you are not called, you can affirm their work and reply, “As for me, I will … ”
What is your Dung Gate?
Prayer: Holy God, you created everything we see and even what we cannot see. You call us to be a part of your redemptive work in creation. You give us roles in your kingdom work and gift us to carry out those roles. Help to make my role clear today. Empower me to do your work and to share your good news through my work today. Whether you call me to the Dung Gate or to prayer, I will be sure to give you all of the honor, glory and praise in all. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.