Get Your Hands Dirty

Hey people. This article will likely appear in the next Calvary Messenger. I thought I’d give my blog readers a chance to see it before the “general” populous. Thanks again for reading.

When I was a freshman in high school, I was not a motivated student. I wasn’t the smartest kid in school, but wasn’t necessarily dumb either. Math was terrible, and English was great. I loved the social aspect of school, but I put socializing and playing basketball ahead of my schoolwork as often as possible. If it wouldn’t have been for Mom, graduation would have been unlikely. At one point, I was disillusioned enough with school to consider dropping out.

In the midst of this, my older cousin Brad saw that I was struggling and needed some motivation. He had the sensitivity to talk to me about it and wondered if I would like some help to get more work done. I thought that sounded great. He offered to take me out for supper depending on how much work I got done. He even gave up part of a Saturday to help me do some school work. I don’t remember how well it worked. I don’t think I even got enough work done to receive my reward, but that’s not the point.

I never told him, but I think he had no idea how much it meant to me. See, in my mind, Brad embodied everything I admired: from the way he dressed to the way he played basketball. He was also a super nice guy and had a great sense of humor. The list could go on. The point is, I looked up to him a lot. And when someone you look up to that much takes the time to care about what is going on in your life–not just the time to talk, but to actually help you out with the problems in your life, it makes you feel like you are really worth something, like your problems are actually worth talking about. Anyone who has experienced anything like this knows that there is no price tag on such an experience.

It was especially valuable to me at the time because I was still very much trying to figure out who I was. Brad could have just talked to me and encouraged me to work harder. He wouldn’t have had to use up part of his valuable Saturday to help me out. He would not have had to offer to spend some money and possibly more time with me to get me to work. But he did anyway, and did so cheerfully. He seemed to be having fun when he was with me. If he wanted to be somewhere else, hanging out with someone else, he did a great job of hiding it. I hope he felt great about it, because I certainly did. God has designed us for relationships and by giving ourselves, we most effectively fulfill that design.

It’s easy for me to help others—without giving myself. I can get that pleasant, generous feeling very easily by dropping a check in the offering that will help the people than actually take the time to help them myself. It’s not wrong. The Bible endorses both kinds of giving, but I often cheat myself by failing to take the time to minister to others.

It is important to give ourselves to the needy around us for the following reasons: first, God designed us to be fulfilled by it; second, it gives a sense of worth to those we help; and third, Jesus exemplified this concept in His ministry.

When we allow God to use us by helping others, we actually invest in another person’s life. I think God created us to feel fulfillment by building relationships and filling needs in unfortunate people’s lives. It is not always fun. But there is invariably a feeling of self worth that is only realized as we serve those around us—as we permit Christ to use us as His hands and feet.

On the inverse side of the situation, it feels great too when someone cares about me enough to spend some of his valuable time on me. There is something invaluable and lovely about realizing that this person really cares about me as a person. He’s not just throwing money or resources at me to relieve himself of my situation without getting involved. God wired us to want acceptance from our fellow humans. Ultimately, we need approval from God more than anything, but human beings are the ones we can see, touch, and to whom we can most easily relate.

That’s the beauty of Jesus becoming a man. He cared enough about us to actually leave the absolute perfection of Heaven, not just to keep us from falling into hell, but so we could be restored enough to love Him and have a relationship with Him. This is one of the things I like best about Jesus.

We are called to emulate Jesus as much as is humanly possible. He showed ushow to love others by the example of His ministry—not just by becoming a man and descending to the slum we know as home, but by the people with whom he associated. In his book, Searching For God Knows What, Donald Miller points out that Jesus did not spend much time with the socially elite. From the Bible, it is obvious that while Jesus walked the dusty roads of ancient Judea, He spent much time with people whom few of us would consider decent or civilized.

Let’s face it. It’s not always fun or attractive to delve into the life of the homeless guy who looks like he hasn’t showered or changed clothes in a week. But people like him are the ones who need our love and attention the most. The rest of society puts value on people by whether they are rich, good looking, or famous. Too many people already see the world that way. What a shame to Jesus if we as Christians also use these criteria to determine a person’s worth.

So dig into the relationships around you. Get your hands dirty because those around you have done the same thing for you. It is good for you, good for those around you, and most importantly, Jesus Himself did it. Even if you feel neglected by the people in your life, Jesus has never neglected you. He loved us all even when we were unlovable. If for no other reason, love others for Jesus. Matthew 25:40 “…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Jesus loved us enough to dirty His hands so He could cleanse us. If Someone as holy and pure as Jesus could reach out and clean our sinful filth, certainly we can do the same for those around us—if for no other reason, than out of gratitude to the One who loved enough to get his hands dirty on earth, just to give us chance to love Him back.


3 comments on “Get Your Hands Dirty

  1. Andrew Yoder says:

    Very true. Serving others is often dirty work. I’ll be reading your blog. Its off to a good start.

  2. Constance says:

    Good thoughts. I remember people who invested time in my teenage years, and hope I can do the same for other youth.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Good stuff, Ryan. Great challenge for me in an area in which I have failed pretty miserably. And nice props to a mutual hero. 🙂

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