We Are His Hands and Feet

Exodus 6:6 records God’s promise to the Hebrew people:
   “I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment” (NIV).
As the story of the Exodus unfolds, God holds true to His promise.
God, indeed, brings the Israelites out of bondage through “mighty acts.”
On the other hand, the Scriptures also are replete with examples of God using people to defend and deliver those who cannot help themselves. God places a Jewish teenager, named Esther, in an influential position to save her people from mass murder. God deploys a young man named David on the battlefield to defeat an insurmountable foe named Goliath and leads the Israelite army to victory over a more powerful enemy. God dispatched a nondescript carpenter from Galilee to liberate the world from the twin ravages of sin and death. In many cases, God uses people to help other people.
Sadly, however, the popular expression, “God helps those who help themselves,” is used by many in the church as an excuse for not assisting those in need. Pastor Adam Hamilton writes:
The fact is that some people truly cannot help themselves. And for many others who find themselves trapped in poverty or struggling financially, self-help often isn’t nearly so simple as summoning the will and pulling themselves up by the bootstraps. Sometimes people are in a hole so deep that they can’t climb out without help
Half-truths, p. 34.
In such cases, God calls His people to give those who struggle a hand up. Helping becomes the tangible evidence of loving one’s neighbor.
For ten years, my wife, Cathy, and I served in an urban community. The largest demographic was a female, head of household with three generations under one roof. In simple terms, a grandmother was required to care for her grandchildren while their mothers worked two or more jobs to make ends meet. My exposure to this level of poverty was an eye opener. I quickly realized how little I knew about the challenges these families face. I have always believed that all of us should do what we can to support ourselves. However, there are some obstacles that many don’t know how to overcome. Consequently, our response should never be to dismiss their needs by citing that God only helps those who help themselves.
As I said last Sunday, God specializes in helping those who cannot help themselves. And, as the church, we are called to be the hands, feet, and voice of Christ. The truth is that God is counting on us to care for the least, the last, and the lost among us. As Jesus claims in the gospel of Matthew, the manner in which we treat these souls mirrors the response we make to Jesus himself.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor David