1 Chronicles 9:14-34 – Some Praise for That Faithful 20%

Posted: February 8, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 9:14-34

The Returning Levites

There is an old saying when it comes to church and it is that “it is often true that 20% of the people do 80% of the work” of the church. What that means is that there is about 1/5 of the normal attendees of a church that do the work that needs to be done around the church. Jobs around any church that has a pulse include maintenance on the building, cleaning the building, preparing the sanctuary for worship, being ushers and security for the Sunday services, being a member of the worship team (whatever that may look like at your church – a worship band or a musical team with a choir) which includes not only Sunday morning performances but the practice(s) during the week. It includes small group leaders and/or Sunday school teachers (most of whom don’t just show up for small group or Sunday school but rather put in quite a few hours of preparation time during the week). It also includes nursery workers who forgo fully participating in Sunday worship to keep and lovingly care for the babies. There are those who take time on Sunday or Monday to count the offerings made to the church at Sunday worship and give credit to each donors giving account, prepare all the funds for deposit at the bank and physically take the deposit to the bank. There the greeters for the service that make you feel at home when you arrive for worship. Then there are the sound guys who run the church’s sound system. There are the video guys who ensure that the video screens provide the content that matches what’s going on in the service. There are the production guys who make sure the video and audio and the cameras and so on provide a quality experience for worshipers. There’s the guy who makes sure the video feed is streaming to the internet without a hitch so that shut-ins, people who are temporarily ill, and members who are out of town can enjoy the services of the church on Sunday mornings. In traditional service formats, there are the elementary and middle school kids that are acolytes, that open and close the service for us in symbolic fashion.

Then there are the leaders of the individual ministries of the church, those passionate ones who love a particular way in which the church ministers to its own people and/or to the community in which the church operates. Some ministry leaders even coordinate mission trips for our church members to regional, national, and international locations to do ministry and to help others. There are those that minister to women, to men, to youth, and other specific focus ministries. There are those who invest themselves in the financial and administrative ministries of the church, without which the church could not function for long. Further, there are those that serve in accountability functions such as pastoral provision and oversight.

And then there is the pastor who does more than just emcee the worship service and preach for 25 minutes during the worship service on Sunday. He must develop, prepare, and pray about the message that is to be brought each and every Sunday. For that almost half hour of preaching, there is most likely around 16 hours of preparation time spent on that sermon. Then there is the managing of the day to day affairs of the church, the counseling (both planned and impromptu) of church members, the discipling of church members, the visitations at the hospital, the visits to members, the preparation for weekly bible studies, the preparation for weekly youth meetings, the preparation for finance committee, trustees committee, and administrative committee meetings, the planning of the non-sermon portions of the worship service, planning future sermons, supervising ministry leaders, casting vision for all the ministries, and myriad of other one-off and regular-routine duties that pop up during each week.

For all those who are that 20% that does the 80%, I celebrate you this morning. I celebrate your love of your local church, whether it be a modern worship style church with video screens, a worship band, and so on or a traditional style service with a choir, piano, sometimes violins, acoustic guitars, cellos, trumpets, and so on. I celebrate your love of the focus of either style of worship, Jesus Christ. Not all of us are or want to be on-stage, in the pulpit, the choir loft, the musicians area of the sanctuary or worship center. I celebrate your doing the quiet jobs, the unseen jobs, the unnoticed jobs which altogether ensure the smooth operation of Sunday mornings and of the day-to-day, week-to-week, year-to-year operations and ministries of the church.

That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through 1 Chronicles 9:14-34 this morning, the dedication of that 20% of churches that do 80% of the work without which our Sunday mornings could not happen, ministry outside of Sunday morning could not happen, and the day-to-day functioning of the church could not happen. Let’s read this passage now:

14 Of the Levites: Shemaiah son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, of the sons of Merari; 15 and Bakbakkar, Heresh, Galal, and Mattaniah son of Mica, son of Zichri, son of Asaph; 16 and Obadiah son of Shemaiah, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun, and Berechiah son of Asa, son of Elkanah, who lived in the villages of the Netophathites.

17 The gatekeepers were: Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman; and their kindred Shallum was the chief, 18 stationed previously in the king’s gate on the east side. These were the gatekeepers of the camp of the Levites. 19 Shallum son of Kore, son of Ebiasaph, son of Korah, and his kindred of his ancestral house, the Korahites, were in charge of the work of the service, guardians of the thresholds of the tent, as their ancestors had been in charge of the camp of the Lord, guardians of the entrance. 20 And Phinehas son of Eleazar was chief over them in former times; the Lord was with him. 21 Zechariah son of Meshelemiah was gatekeeper at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 22 All these, who were chosen as gatekeepers at the thresholds, were two hundred twelve. They were enrolled by genealogies in their villages. David and the seer Samuel established them in their office of trust. 23 So they and their descendants were in charge of the gates of the house of the Lord, that is, the house of the tent, as guards. 24 The gatekeepers were on the four sides, east, west, north, and south; 25 and their kindred who were in their villages were obliged to come in every seven days, in turn, to be with them; 26 for the four chief gatekeepers, who were Levites, were in charge of the chambers and the treasures of the house of God. 27 And they would spend the night near the house of God; for on them lay the duty of watching, and they had charge of opening it every morning.

28 Some of them had charge of the utensils of service, for they were required to count them when they were brought in and taken out. 29 Others of them were appointed over the furniture, and over all the holy utensils, also over the choice flour, the wine, the oil, the incense, and the spices. 30 Others, of the sons of the priests, prepared the mixing of the spices, 31 and Mattithiah, one of the Levites, the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, was in charge of making the flat cakes. 32 Also some of their kindred of the Kohathites had charge of the rows of bread, to prepare them for each sabbath.

33 Now these are the singers, the heads of ancestral houses of the Levites, living in the chambers of the temple free from other service, for they were on duty day and night. 34 These were heads of ancestral houses of the Levites, according to their generations; these leaders lived in Jerusalem.

In this passage, we see that the gatekeepers guarded the four main entrances to the Temple and opened the gates each morning for those who would come to worship. In addition they did day-to-day chores to keep the Temple running smoothly – cleaning, preparing the sacrificial offerings, and accounting for the gifts designated to the Temple (see 1 Chronicles 9:22-32). Gatekeepers had to be reliable, honest, and trustworthy. The people in our churches who handle the offerings, care for the materials for worship, and the functions of the building, all follow in a great tradition and we should honor them for their service, which often goes unnoticed. The priests put a great deal of time into worship and the day to day functioning of the church. All of the noticed and unnoticed parts of the ministry of the church are necessary and should be appreciated by all.

In our busy world, it is easy to rush into our one-hour-a-week worship services and maybe attend a small group or a ministry activity without appreciating all the hard work that goes into it all, by people who simply have a passion for the Lord and want to give Him glory through there service to their local church. For that 20% that does the 80%, it is not about getting notice. They see ministry needs and fill them so that the gospel can be advanced. They see that impressions of Jesus Christ that can be made upon those who do not know Him by how our ministry to the community operates and by how our church operates day to day. They do what they do with excellence so that the people that we are trying to reach with the gospel cannot use lack of excellence as a reason to turn away.

As a pastor, I am thankful for those dedicated individuals who lay it all on the line for the cause of Christ through their local church. These are the warriors of the cause of Christ. They do all the hard work of the church. They don’t just sit in the pews and do nothing else. They love the Lord and serve Him through the seen and unseen ministries of their local church. They look at it as the least that they can do to show Him the love that they have for Him and the gratitude that they have for their salvation. They don’t just come to church when it suits them or when it doesn’t conflict with some leisure activity. They don’t just see church as one of several viable options for the investment of their time, talents, and resources. They see it as the highest priority and everything else is secondary. They will hear it from the Lord one day when they meet Him in heaven where He will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”

When you or I reach that moment when we have to come face to face with the Lord, what will we say? I gave you one hour a week, Lord? I sat through preaching one hour a week, Lord? I came to church at least twice a month, Lord? I served the church, Lord, when I didn’t have a conflict with my secular activities? I placed priority on church when there wasn’t something better on my agenda? Are these the answers that you and I want to give in that moment where we stand before the Lord and have to give an account for our life?

Doing good deeds such as serving our church in seen and unseen ways cannot earn us heaven. We can only receive the gift of heaven with Jesus for eternity through our humbly falling before Him and saying that we are sinners in need of the salvation that He offers. We can’t earn that. It is a gift. But what that gift should be compelling us to do is to serve our Savior in any way we can out of an outpouring for gratefulness and thanksgiving for what He has done for us – saved us from an eternity in hell. Our service to our local church in its ministries should be a love offering from our hearts to His.

Oh, Father, help us to know you in a way that spurs us to be utterly humbled by and thankful for what you have done for us through the cross and our salvation! Help us to see that as eternally important! Help us to be so overwhelmed with the joy of our salvation that we serve you in any way that we can. Help to be so moved by our love for you that we place you and your church as a priority over everything else in our lives. Help us to make you #1 in our lives. Help us to stop seeing you as something we have to do and rather as something we get to do. Help us to make you the top priority and not one of many options.

Amen and Amen.

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