Hands of the righteous

“She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. … Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:19-20, 31 ESV).

In last week’s article we discussed the information one can extract from the examination of the hand. We concluded with encouragement to develop hands that would reveal that we are people of God. But what do those hands look like? How does one know that they are the hands of righteous people? The Bible teaches that certain traits belong to the hands of those who follow God.

First, God’s people are to possess holy hands. “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling” (1 Timothy 2:8). Acceptable worship to God requires that one be in a state of purity (Matthew 5:23-24; James 1:27). The root concepts of holiness in the Bible include: god-like-ness (Leviticus 19:2); consecration or dedication to G (Joshua 7:13); and ritual purity or cleanliness (Deuteronomy 35:2). Regarding prayer, Paul added to “holy” the requirements that those praying should do so “without anger or quarreling.” Holiness is not confined to outward rituals, but also to one’s thoughts and motives – the condition of the heart (Matthew 15:10-20).

In the New Testament holiness is obtainable only through faith in Jesus (Romans 1:16-17). “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and therefore have become unholy. Jesus cleansed us from sin and reconciled us to the Father (Ephesians 2:1-8; 16-18) in holiness. That holiness requires moral and ethical purity (Romans 6:12-13).

Second, righteous hands are harmless to others. When David professed himself to be innocent of any malice towards King Saul he stated, “You may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands … my hand shall not be against you” (1 Samuel 24:11-12). Violence and destruction are results of unrighteous character (Ephesians 4:31).

Third, the hands of the godly are helpful. The description of the worthy woman with which we began this article includes the many good things which she does with her hands for her family and community. These include sewing, weaving, and acts of benevolence to the poor and needy. The writer of Hebrews instructs, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16).

Finally, a believer’s hands must demonstrate his (or her) willingness to work, both in his own and on God’s behalf. “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands” (Ephesians 4:28). Again, “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands as we instructed you” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). They are to use the gifts which God has apportioned to them diligently in his service (Romans 12:6; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

The hands of the righteous may be calloused or soft, strong or gentle, nimble or clumsy. But they must always demonstrate godly character formed by faith in and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

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