Today, read 1 Chronicles 9-10, Amos 6.
This devotional is about 1 Chronicles 9, believe it or not.
• I did not go into the ministry so that I could decide what color to paint the walls in the hallway of the church building.
• I did not go to seminary to learn what a 501(c)3 corporation is and what the government requires of it.
• I did not accept the position of Senior Pastor to spend my life pouring over budgets and financial reports.
• I do not study the Bible to try to get people to give more money to the church, spend more time serving in the body, or just show up regularly and on time for the worship service on Sunday.
• I don’t get paid to order guitar strings or bulbs for the projector or copier paper.
I went into ministry to serve the Lord. I did it to study and teach God’s word. I serve the Lord to equip God’s people to reach out to others with the gospel.
...all the stuff on that list above--and more--is necessary. It is mundane and, in the light of eternity, doesn’t seem to matter. But it does matter because it enables us to serve the Lord, to minister to people, and everything else that goes along with being the Lord’s church in this age.
Our last few days reading 1 Chronicles have taken us through this lengthy genealogy. Maybe you’ve skipped reading these chapters. I don’t blame you, but they are worth reading because they matter. Here in chapter 9, we read about the names of the first men who returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity ended (vv. 2ff). Many of these people were “priests, Levites and temple servants” according to verse 2. These people were listed by name in verses 10-21.
We understand from reading the Old Testament what priests do: They offer sacrifices and teach God’s people the Law (v. 13).
The Levites were an entire tribe of descendants of Levi. God had set apart for his ministry. Some of them were priests. All priests were Levites but not all Levites were priests. In fact, most Levites were not priests but served in more mundane ways. This chapter lists them by name (vv. 14-21) and gives us some insight into their duties:
• Verses 22-27 tell us that some of them were guards. God’s temple had its own private security. These men were there to keep the temple from being robbed (vv. 26-27).
• Verse 28 tells us that some of these men were accountants. Well, sort of; accountants count things and these men counted the equipment used in the Lord’s service. Their work made sure nothing got stolen. That is, in part, what modern accountants do, too.
• Verse 29 tells us that some of these men were a bit like janitors. They made sure the things needed for the Lord’s service were in good working condition and that the temple had all the supplies it needed for the ministry.
• Verse 30-32 tells us that some of them were like cooks. They “took acre of mixing the spices” in verse 30 while others baked the bread that was used in the temple according to verses 31-32.
• Verse 33 tells us that there were musicians. They got free apartments in the temple and were not required to do other things besides play and sing with great skills.
So here we have, recorded in the pages of holy writ, the names of men who serve the Lord in more “basic” ways than we usually think about. They didn’t write like Isaiah, preach like Elijah, or inquire of the Lord like Abiathar. But their work was important because it made the temple a safe place to come and worship as well as one that had everything the worshippers needed at all times.
In our church we have people who count the money that is collected in the offerings on Sunday. They work in teams and make sure that every penny is counted and accounted for with absolute integrity. We have others who account for the finances of the church and prepare financial statements. Some of you come in and clean the church on Saturday night. Some prepare the elements for communion on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month. Some clean the baptistry and changing rooms before we baptize. Some get up early to buy donuts and make coffee. Some come in the evening or on Saturday to repair chairs, replace burned out bulbs or broken light fixtures. All of this stuff needs to be done and you do it faithfully; so faithfully, in fact, that nobody thinks about it because it is always just ready.
At times these tasks may seem tedious. They might get old and you may wish you could spend that time doing something more fun. In those moments, remember 1 Chronicles 9. God knows the names of everyone who serves him. He sees your work that is done for his glory. He will reward you for loving him and his body in these often overlooked ways.
If you’re not serving the Lord in any capacity, why not? There is something that everyone can do. God sees and rewards even the most basic acts of service that are done in his name.