The Renewal of Our Hands
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 32
We have been delivered from our misery by God’s grace alone through Christ and not because we have earned it: why then must we still do good?
To be sure, Christ has redeemed us by his blood. But we do good because Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself, so that in all our living we may show that we are thankful to God for all he has done for us, and so that he may be praised through us. And we do good so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.
Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and impenitent ways?
By no means. Scripture tells us that no unchaste person, no idolater, adulterer, thief, no covetous person, no drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like is going to inherit the kingdom of God.
The Renewal of Our Hands
Thursday, July 13: Matthew 25:31-46
The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that, since we are being renewed by the Spirit into the likeness of Christ, we are to imitate His love, tenderness and compassion through sacrificial service so that others may flourish (Ephesians 5:1-2, Philippians 2:1-11). Hands are a Biblical metaphor for this Christ-like service. The hand of the Lord created us good and in His image (Psalm 139: Isaiah 48:13), provides for our human needs (Matthew 6:28-34), gives and protects our new life in Jesus Christ (John 10:28). The Psalmist states: “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me” (Psalm 31:14). The Psalmist’s prayer was answered in Jesus Christ. His hands were nailed to the cross (Psalm 22:16, John 20:25, Acts 2:23), providing rescue from the kingdom of darkness and entrance into the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). The gracious hands of the Lord are now to define the use our hands for His good. Proverbs distinguishes between lazy and diligent hands (Proverbs 10:4), inviting the Christian to resist the former (Proverbs 21:25, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) and to prayerfully embrace the latter in order to serve the needs of others (Proverbs 31:13,20, 1 Timothy 2:8). I wonder if these words stir a spirit of repentance in our hearts, the kind that leads to the Holy Spirit renewal of our hands. First, human hands have and continue to demean and devalue the image of God. Those who are the victims of sexual assault or physical abuse bear the permanent scars of graceless hands. Second, the richer we grow the less compassionate our hands become. Instead, they serve as the tools of committed selfishness. The words of Andrew Kuyvenhoven, therefore, are still relevant: “It’s the tragedy of many church members that they say they believe but have never done anything to back it up” (Comfort and Joy, 192). Allow me to end with a question. Do our hands reveal the gospel gratitude described by Jesus? He said: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:35-36).
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn