Devotion 4 in the series All in a Day's Work: 1 Corinthians 12:14-20, Nehemiah 3:6-12

What Role Has God Given You?

What Role Has God Given You_male professional cyclist

1 Corinthians 12:14-20(ESV)

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

Nehemiah 3:6-12 (ESV)

[This portion of scripture describes the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem several decades after the Israelites had been freed from their Babylonian captivity. Try not to get hung up on the difficult-to-pronounce names.]

6 Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Gate of Yeshanah. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 7 And next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, the seat of the governor of the province Beyond the River. 8 Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9 Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired. 10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph repaired opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah repaired. 11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters.

Digging into God’s Word

There’s this guy named Fabian Cancellara, with the nickname Spartacus. Not only does he have super cool names, but for years he was one of the fastest time trialists in professional cycling. Teams of 9 compete in the Tour de France over 3 arduous weeks. Some days (stages) are long and flat and made for the sprinters to win. Other days are steep and mountainous, ideal for the climbers.

Two of the days are time trials. In a time trial, cyclists compete individually, starting one by one several seconds apart, with the goal of completing the course in the fastest time. Want your team to win a time trial? Recruit Fabian Cancellara.

In addition to sprinters, mountain specialists, and time trialists, your team needs a couple of cyclists to serve as the domestiques. The domestique works for the benefit of the team. He is good enough to be in the top 219 cyclists in the world to compete in the Tour, but he will not win. The domestique routinely slows up, finds the team car, which is following the pack of cyclists, stuffs 6 to 8 water bottles down his jersey, accelerates back up to his team members, and hands the water bottles to the suffering cyclists. There will be no headlines for this cyclist–only the satisfaction of having helped his team leader place as high as possible.

So imagine my surprise this year when I spotted Fabian Cancellara, one of the fastest cyclists in the world, reaching into his jersey and distributing bottle after bottle to his teammates on a somewhat hilly stage. I paused my DVR. I rewound. I listened to the announcers to be sure: Yes, it was him, serving his teammates. Cancellara is retiring this year. Can you imagine being one of the young cyclists who will later be able to say they once received water bottles from the best time trialist of them all?

Cancellara understood his role: He was on the team to place well in the time trial. On the other days, he was there to support his teammates.

Other cyclists play even different roles. All effort is put toward giving the team leader the best possible shot at winning the Tour. Picture what this means: You can make it up the mountain as quickly as your team leader can, but your role is to set the pace, to fiercely lead your leader to the top, and even to give up your bike to that leader should he have a mechanical failure. Despite being one of the best in the world, you have a role to play, and it is not to win the stage yourself.

The people who returned from Babylon to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem served side by side, each completing his or her assigned role, none more important than the other when it came to the construction of the wall. In the body of Christ, some people play roles that are obvious and receive recognition. Others serve in unseen ways, known only by God. 1 Corinthians 12:18 reminds us, “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”

What role has God given you? Do you fight it or embrace it? How can you see God’s plan in the role He has given you?

Digging Deeper

As you are able, spend time with God, reflecting on these questions or journaling your thoughts.

  1. What thoughts about your role at work or in your home came to mind as you read this devotion? Share your thoughts with the Lord.
  2. Did you notice that in Nehemiah 3:8, a goldsmith and Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired a large section of the wall? You have to wonder if as he was hammering away, Hananiah occasionally questioned why God was using him as a construction worker. If you are wondering about your role, ask God to show you why He has put you in this situation at this time. Ask God to help you embrace your role.
  3. Praise God for His faithfulness! He gives power to the faint and renews our strength (Isaiah 40:29-31).

Extra Info!

If you were with us during the series from Isaiah (I am the LORD: Isaiah 44 & 45), you might be interested to read the first few verses of the book of Ezra. There you will see the fulfillment of the prophecy that a ruler named Cyrus would let the Israelites return to the land of Judah. Not all of the Israelites left their captive land to return home. They had settled into life in Babylon and were no longer held there by force.

The events in the book of Nehemiah occurred up to 93 years later, when Nehemiah, cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, learned that the walls of Jerusalem had not been rebuilt. His heart was so troubled by this news that he approached his king for permission to leave his post and head the rebuilding of the wall.

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