At Humble Orthodoxy, we value the place of theology in each of our lives. We also recognize that theology is set apart from other studied disciplines. Theology has a quality that paleontology, biology, or philosophy don’t have: it is the truth about God woven into our heads, hearts, and hands. Not mere knowledge, not strict information. It is a part of who we are and how we exist in this world.
Which is how we decided on this series: Head, Heart, and Hands.
The final post of this series is written by Rev. Stephen Owens, one of the Board Members at Emmaus. Rev. Owens takes us on a journey through Scripture, pointing us toward God’s concern for our hands and the work that we do. Our embodiment of God’s love and our love for God can be evidenced by the work of our hands as we seek God’s kingdom on earth.
Through this series, we hope that your head, heart, and hands are stirred toward love of God, his Word, and his people.
– The Humble Orthodoxy Editorial Team
Our hands are an important part of our bodies. God designed the human body with hands and we are told to use them to glorify him. The church in Corinth was told, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20, ESV). This command would include our hands.
There are times in the Bible when the word “hands” is used to describe physical hands on a person’s body and how they are used. Other times the word is used metaphorically to convey a message. One of those messages focuses on our behavior and actions, such as in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (ESV). Our actions as followers of Christ should be fueled and filled with love as we seek to glorify God.
The apostle Paul conveys this idea in his first epistle to the Thessalonians believers. It reads,
But concerning brotherly love, you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing. (4:9-12, NKJV)
Let us see how we can glorify God with our actions from this passage of scripture. First, the apostle communicates the need for tangible acts of love toward other Christians. Then, he describes how those acts of love can be an example to non-Christians on how to live. These verses help us understand when we practice actions fueled by and filled with love, our churches, families, and unbelieving neighbors benefit.
In verse 9, we see the exhortation of “brotherly love” where Christians “love one another.” This kind of love is not erotic (eros), paternal (storge), or divine (agape). Instead, it is a love of brothers and sisters caring for each other practically in everyday life (phileo). In verse ten, the appeal is to “increase more and more” in these actions of love among one another.
The apostle was commended by the Thessalonians for practicing this kind of love towards one another within their local assembly. They also showed this practical love within the broader church body of the “brethren who are in all Macedonia.” Their love was shown to the broader church by being examples and declaring the word of the Lord to them (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8).
In verse 11, the believers were told to aspire to practice three practical actions of love.
• Lead a quiet life
• Mind your own business
• Work with your own hands
“To lead a quiet life” is to avoid unnecessary conflicts. They were being exhorted to not be troublemakers by stirring up dissension and jumping into arguments. The counsel was to act in love by evading and not causing unnecessary problems.
The next loving action is “to mind your own business.” By staying out of other people’s affairs. Meddling into the affairs of others when not asked is what the Bible calls being a busybody. The church is warned about being a busybody in 1 Peter 4:15, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.”
Another tangible aspect of love is to “mind your own business”. This is done by making sure your affairs are handled properly. This is where we take care of our own daily needs and responsibilities. As a result, the church does not have to be the mechanism to facilitate the everyday needs of abled-bodied adult Christians. Instead, every believer should be ambitious to see to their own needs and the needs of those in their household.
This loving action of being responsible and tending to our needs moves into the last practice of “work with your own hands.” The apostle tells believers to go and be productive by working to earn a wage so they will be able to pay for their daily needs. One of the loving actions of Christians toward others is to seek to provide for one’s own needs.
In verse 12, the passage concludes with two benefits of practicing these actions of love. The first benefit is to the outsider (non-believer), and the other is to the believer. When the outsider sees a Christian “walking properly” by behaving in tangible acts of love and being productive and responsible, as the NIV translates the verse, they will “win the respect of outsiders.” The benefit to the believer is that he or she will not experience lack. The idea is not that they will never want for anything. Rather, needs will be taken care of and there will not be dependence on others.
When we practice these actions of love, we will glorify the Lord Jesus. We use our bodies to bring honor to the Lord and show love to other believers and our non-believing neighbors. As we seek to love people in practical ways, let us heed the warning of King Jesus, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Even when people reject our acts of love, let’s remember we are not doing it to glorify and please them but to glorify and please our King who placed us in his kingdom.
Stephen Owens is the pastor at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Bedford, Ohio.Stephen has over 25 years of ministry experience, which ranges from Sunday school teacher to pastor. Stephen has a passion for encouraging leaders to be all that God wants them to be. Whether they are in the marketplace or in the church Stephen has an encouraging word for them.
Photo by Austin Ban