Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reaching Out with a Loving Hand and Compassionate Heart

Proverbs 31:20
She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.

This verse is a wonderful example of parallelism. Often found in Hebrew poetry, parallelism refers to the presentation of two similar ideas; in this case, the second phrase basically saying the same thing as the first, with only minor variations: help the poor and needy. With "poor” and “needy” both meaning "afflicted or humbled, the terms often describe those who are physically and/or materially poor. Yet, the terms may also refer to believers who recognize their spiritual poverty. That is to say, they realize their spiritual growth is dependent on acknowledging their desperate need for that which only the Lord can supply. When He supplies us with whatever we lack, we are rich indeed.

During the days of His humiliation, our blessed Lord was also referred to as "poor": "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2 Cor. 8:9). It is for this reason, God asks us to reach out and help the poor and needy in the same way He has helped us. When we do, we honor Him in the same way He honors us.

With this in mind, the virtuous individual demonstrates compassion with concrete deeds toward the poor and needy. S/he loves the poor, not in word or in tongue only, but also in deed and in truth. But what really strikes me about this verse are the words, “she stretches out her hands to the needy." These words immediately conjure up an image of a mother reaching out to her children in time of need. it in fact reminds me of when my children were young. When either of them cried after being hurt or disappointed, my hand would automatically reach out to them without thinking.

Along with an image of a mother "stretching out her hands to the needy”,  I also envision a virtuous individual who wants to do more than just give of her time, resources, or money. With a mother's natural instinct, the Proverbs 31 individual wants to show true compassion, nurturing all those who are in need. When they do, they realize help comes in many forms; not just monetarily. In fact, s/he realizes that there are times when the right thing to do is to NOT give any money. For example, in the case of a man who deceptively begs for money for groceries, only to spend it on alcohol. Or, in the case of a woman who routinely goes around church to church looking for free meals and financial gifts. Supporting this kind of behavior does not teach long-term personal responsibility.

Using wisdom and discernment, the Proverbs 31 often nurtures using creative, and often alternative, means. While s/he realizes giving of resources is a valuable and much-needed thing to do, s/he is also mindful to give of their heart too. For example, if a person is truly hungry, and s/he believes it is proper to help, the Proverbs 31 individual invites him or her into their home. They sit with them; share a meal with them; include them in as part of your family; and most of all… ask them to stay long enough for some words of encouragement, whether from the Bible or another inspirational work. The end result? The Proverbs 31 individual not only fed their tummy, but their heart too.

Hebrews 13:2
Let us be mindful to be as charitable with our hearts as we are with our resources. And remember… "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

In closing, when extending a helping hand to others, ask God for guidance; specifically, wisdom and discernment in how best to meet the needs of those with whom He has placed in your life.

Luke 12:48
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Remember ... touch a life today "The Little Way" by following the lead and need of others. Also, if you ever thought to yourself, "I wish my community, knew...", then be sure to visit White Light Communications at
~ Theresa


Monday, April 5, 2010

Doing Work with Great Love

Proverbs 31:19
She layeth her hands to the spindle,
and her hands hold the distaff
The Proverbs 31 individual’s hands are rarely, if ever, idle. They use their time and hands wisely, faithfully, and skillfully to provide clothing, bed linens, and other necessities for family and others. In particular, this verse describes an ancient method of spinning fiber into thread. Prior to the advent of a spinning wheel, a spinster used a distaff (a staff) to hold flax, wool, or other fibers while a spindle spun fiber in a circular twisting and turning motion into thread.

An arduous undertaking, an individual who held a distaff and spindled fiber at the same time possessed great physical, spiritual, and mental strength. Further, they possessed much patience and endurance as it took much time to complete. An individual demonstrating these characteristics was considered a great blessing to all those in their life.

The New Testament describes such a woman. Her name was Tabitha - Aramaic for gazelle. Much like a gazelle, Tabitha was beautiful, nimble, and well known for her skilled artistry. Many smiled and felt relief in her presence; it was as though a heavy burden lifted. She was well loved, respected, and surrounded by those who clearly saw and felt the work and character of Christ within her.

In modern times, qualities such as strength, patience, and endurance as well as skills such as sewing, knitting, and quilting have become lost in favor of instant gratification and disposable wares. Yet there is so much value in creating something with your own hands; not just sentimental value, but financial value too as it costs far less to make your own clothing and quilts, for example, than to purchase them. What’s more, children can learn so much from watching their mother and father work, allowing many qualities and skills to pass onto future generations.

Whether at home or away, truly following the lead and needs of others does not occur overnight; nor does such service diminish over time. Rather, it takes time, commitment, and effort to develop the patience, strength, and endurance to serve God and others. When performed with great love, the effort of one’s service grows more beautiful as time passes. An effort that requires investment in our self and in the relationships we have with others and with God.

It starts by asking God to bless our hands, making them skillful and successful for Him. With His blessings, we are then capable of doing amazing things with our hands. Next, believing in His Word gives us the strength, patience, and endurance to commit to following the lead and needs of others. “Servant leadership” - and its many forms - is a beautiful tapestry created with threads of strength, patience, and endurance woven with God’s Word, unconditional love, and acceptance. Laying His hands wisely and faithfully onto a spindle while skillfully holding a distaff, it is with God’s refinement that we become a most treasured masterpiece. What's more, in being created in His image, we have been given hands in which to create the most beautiful masterpieces of our own. The blessedness of our hands and of our work comes from creating something with much love, just as our Heavenly Father did when He used His Hands in creating us.

Remember ... touch a life today "The Little Way" by following the lead and need of others. Also, if you ever thought to yourself, "I wish my community, knew...", then be sure to visit White Light Communications at
~ Theresa