Hands That Honor God
If the pandemic of 2020 has taught us anything it’s how to wash our hands. We have also learned that germs are practically everywhere. As a child of the sixties I spent most of my time outside, in the woods, in the creek, in the dirt. Yes there were roads to build, holes to dig, frontiers to explore; never a thought or care about getting dirty. I was always reminded though to wash my hands when called inside to supper. If only I had known at the time the story of the Pharisees questioning Jesus about why His disciples ate without washing their hands and Jesus’ answer that what enters the body does not defile the body. But then I’m sure my smart mouth would have been swiftly corrected.
Concluding our series on the consecrated body we focus on how to prepare our hands for serving God. Keeping our hands free of dirt and grime may be a healthy habit, but it certainly isn’t necessary in order to please our Lord. Each of us has a distinct calling. For some it may well be to have dirt free hands while caring for the sick or preparing food. Others are called to work the fields and farms, getting dirty in the process, in order to produce food. Both jobs are equally important, both allow opportunity to honor God, yet they are at opposite ends of the cleanliness spectrum.
How then do we prepare our hands for service? It is likely that King David wrote the 24th Psalm as he led men to retrieve the stolen ark of the covenant and carry it to it’s rightful place in Jerusalem. Verse four describes what is required for such a privileged task. Our hands must not be soiled with sinful acts thereby defiling even to the heart. Our hands must be guarded from reaching after vain affections to worldly treasures which can never satisfy our soul.
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.(Psalms 24:3-4)
James put it rather bluntly to the hypocritical leaders of the church who outwardly make a show of righteousness yet still walk hand in hand with the sinful world. Our hands must put away the worldly lusts, be separated completely from sin with a repentant heart in order to enjoy a holy communion with God in worship.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (James 4:8)
Honoring God with our hands is more than just maintaining godly cleanliness. We must train our hands to be competent and skillful in whatever task is given us. Whether our job is flipping burgers or building rocket ships, we can honor God by continually striving to do our very best at our job.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
There is no greater honor to God than lifting up hands in praise, prayer, and worship; hands that signify a heart softened and purified with the blood of Jesus Christ. All our labor is in vain if we fail to reach up first calling on the one true holy God. Only by first reaching up can we reach out as holy instruments in the hand of our Saviour.
I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. (1 Timothy 2:8)
And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. (Acts 5:12)
Our body is made of many parts and each part is vital to the whole. Neglecting a splinter in the toe could eventually disable the whole body if it becomes infected and untreated. We must be diligent in quickly removing the things which can debilitate us. The church is also a body of many parts and each part is equally vital. More importantly, each part is loved and cared for equally by the head of the church, Jesus Christ. In the same way the tiny splinter can disable our body, a seemingly insignificant hidden sin in one member can hinder the ministry of the whole church. We honor God by keeping a watchful eye on ourselves, rooting out and discarding those sin splinters, disallowing even the slightest appearance of ungodliness. We need each other to keep us accountable before our Father.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13)
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)