“Sword in one hand, trowel in the other.”
He said it in passing but I was reeling. The pastor’s throwaway line had grabbed me.
A ministry partner had just criticized my work, and there was a kernel of truth in her words. I was thinking of giving up. How could I continue to lead the life group or teach Sunday school? How could I keep working in God’s Kingdom?
The enemy had me right where he wanted me.
Enter Nehemiah. God had blessed his efforts in a monumental task: to rebuild Jerusalem’s crumbled walls. But he faced relentless opposition from foreign leaders. Disheartened Jews opposed the rebuilding, too.
But that didn’t stop Nehemiah. Instead, after an amazing ‘fight-on’ pep talk, he commanded the builders to strap on their swords—and to keep on building.
So, “each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built” (Nehemiah 4:17b-18a).
We don’t grip steel swords and trowels. We have “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17b) to battle opposition and accusations as workers in God’s kingdom. We fight back with truth.
But expect that we will be opposed. Jesus promised it. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b). Preaching that truth to ourselves is wielding the sword.
Opposition is no reason to quit. Nehemiah didn’t. I didn’t either. I took heart and went back to life group that night.
So don’t throw in the trowel or lay down the sword. Sword in one hand, trowel in the other—let’s keep building.