Heart, character, and service. These three things in my mind encompass what it means to live a Christ-like life. Each of these things is essential and what’s interesting to me is how each drives the other.
A heart shaped by God produces Christ-like character. Christ-like character shapes our values and motivates our actions. When honoring God is our motivating factor behind what we put our hands to we will inevitably find ourselves serving like Christ would – literally being the hands of Jesus.
So many of us want that – to be the hands of Jesus. To serve like He served and love people in a tangible way. A Galatians 5:13 kind of way.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
Being the Hands of Jesus Outside of the Church
When we look at the life of Jesus and examine the way He served through out His life one things is made very clear. If we want to be the hands of Jesus we have to be willing to serve outside the walls of the church.
We have to put ourselves in places that allow us to see the real needs of people – because Jesus met the very real needs of very real people.
Jesus serving outside of the church on a consistent basis shows us His priorities. He was committed to loving the lost and He was committed to pointing them to God.
Had He confined Himself to teaching in the temple instead of where the people were He likely wouldn’t have had the opportunities to plant seeds of life into the lost. Jesus intentionally put himself in the company of people who needed the life that He could give. And he even tells us WHY.
“While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:13-16
Being the hands of Jesus requires us to be willing to step out of comfort zones, out of safe Christian circles, and into the world so that those in it may come to know God.
Maybe you’re one who doesn’t have the ability to go out and serve the way you’d like to. Bear with me. In a few moments we’re going to talk about what you CAN DO if getting out in the community to be the hands of Jesus isn’t possible. But first, we’re going to dig into the questions:What does it look like to be the hands of Jesus?
What Does It Look Like to Be the Hands of Jesus?
The best way to answer this question is to look at Jesus’s teachings and examples in the Bible. What you’ll notice and what I love about these examples is that they align with God’s instruction to the Old Testament Hebrews – showing the consistent priority God places on us loving through serving. Let’s start with Isaiah 1:17 where the prophet Isaiah instructs Israel,
“Learn to do good, seek justice, help the oppressed, defend the cause of the orphans, fight for the rights of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)
Where do we see this mirrored in the New Testament?
When the opportunities to do good or bring healing was presented to Jesus he took them every time. Here’s just a few examples:
Healed people of leprosy (Mark 1:40 – 45 and Luke 17:11-19).
He healed a paralytic (Matthew 9:1-8)
Healed a woman of bleeding (Mark 5:21-43).
He fed the multitudes (Matthew 14:3-21).
He was a light to those in darkness (Mark 2:13-16)
He washed feet (John 13:1-17)
- Jesus stood against injustice by speaking TRUTH. He was constantly calling our wrong and leading people to repent (true repentance includes turning from our wrong and towards Jesus). He held officials accountable for their behaviors. Not only does He live righteously, He instructs others on how to do the same.
- Every people group has gone through oppression at one time or another. In scripture some of the most obvious instances where God uplifted the oppressed have been in his interactions with women. It was a cultural norm to view and treat women as property in those days. Jesus’s interactions challenged that norm and demonstrated God’s love and care for women. Maybe the word “oppressed” seems to heavy for you. Try asking yourself instead, what body of people have you witnessed receiving less than Christ-like love, honor, or respect? Start there. Love and serve hard.
- God has plenty to say about loving, taking care of, and advocating for orphans and widows. It’s sprinkled all through out the Hebrew law. A few passages to take note of are James 2:14-18, Psalm 146:5-10, and Isaiah 10:1-3.
What practical steps can you take to serve people in the same way God instructs? How can you be bold in your support of the above scripture? Need help keeping it simple? Below are some basic scriptures and instruction to help you walk the walk without over complicating things.
Basic Scripture and Instruction for being the Hands of Jesus
The parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) gives us an example of how to set our difference aside in order to love and serve greatly.
Ephesians 4:32 keeps it simple, admonishing us to, “Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.”
Proverbs 3:27 remind us, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in the power of your hand to do so.”
Galatians 9:6 encourages, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Sometimes service is a matter of surrender. Are you willing to set aside your own wants and desires to meet the needs of those in front of you?
When You Can’t Be the Hands of Jesus….
In the early months of 2020 a sickness hit our streets that caused chaos around the world. Businesses closed resulting in job losses, churches closed, and grocery stores shelves emptied as people prepared to bunker in place and wait for the airways to become clear and safe again.
While the world around us came to a stand-still the needs of people rapidly increased. I found myself among the many who wanted to physically be the hands of Jesus and a source of help, but couldn’t. I had to put the well-being of my newborn first; which meant go out into the communities wasn’t an option. HOWEVER that doesn’t mean I wasn’t able to serve.
It’s important to put faith to work and walk the walk, no doubt. But sometimes “going out” isn’t an option. When circumstances interrupt your ability to serve and you can’t be the hands of Jesus in a physical sense; I encourage you to stand tall and be the voice. Be the voice that advocates for people. Be the intercessor. Be the one who lifts those in need up before God. It can be really discouraging the see a problem and not be able to provide a physical answer. As those thoughts were crossing my mind God reminded me,
“…’ Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts.” Zechariah 4:6
Being the Voice that Intercedes When You Can’t Be the Hands of Jesus
Prayer is the most productive way we can serve people. When we invite God to be the solution or provide a solution to a situation, not only is His name glorified, but needs begin to get met in ways that we could not have even imagined.
When God shows up in that way; curiosity is triggered and people who have never known God or experienced His love begin to seek Him out. Before you know it is more than just physical provision or healing that takes place; souls are being healed and people are experiencing salvation.
Your prayers are not little, they are not a lost cause, or a last resort. They are thing that bridges the gap between needs and provision, problems and solutions. So when you can’t be the hands of Jesus; friend, stay hopeful and be the voice that doesn’t back down. Be the voice the prays.