“And the eye cannot say unto the hand I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of thee.”
Most of us are familiar with the story of the ugly duckling that, though ridiculed, thought of as being very insignificant among the other little ducks, persecuted for being so unattractive and simply kicked to the curb; who eventually grew into a beautiful swan don’t you? But what are we to do when we are all grown up and still find ourselves treated this way, and worst we are treated this way as a member of God’s Church and the body of Christ. I heard somebody say that one of the worst hurts you could ever feel is that of church hurt.
The writer and author, Nina M. Thompson has even written a book about it entitled, “Church Hurt Ain’t No Joke” and she talks about those of us who have a strong desire to follow God but have gotten deeply hurt on the way to the altar. I used to love to hear the late great Rev. Dr. C. A. W. Clark of Dallas, Texas with his fragile yet strong voice admonish every one who would listen to not count anybody out—but sadly in our Churches today we are doing just that, can you believe it is happening in God’s house? I can’t, but yet it is.
Although we serve a God who is no respecter of person, we sure are! Sadly, we have come to accept that this is the way church is. There is an epidemic of fractured believers out there and we have actually come to accept this as the norm. So we either stay away or let our hearts become cold … or we put on our Sunday best, put our best foot forward and then call out to ourselves “forward march” and we prepare to endure the rolling of eyes and the fiery tongues of some misguided brother or sister who really should know better, in order that we not forsake the assembly as we have been taught through the years. However, God has given us instruction on how to live and work with our fellow Christians, and what He says in His word concerning this subject is just as binding and just as necessary as any other subject that can be taught from His word. We should treat each other like family because we are family, the attitudes we should have toward one another as we live and work together for the cause of the body of Christ, which is the Church is laid out very clearly in God’s Word.
In the text, Paul uses his imagination in regards to the body of Christ and he attempts to settle an argument between the eye and the hand. I believe that he calls upon us to use our imagination as well if but for a moment. Imagine if you will, that you hear the eye belittling the hand, the eye looks down at the hand and says, “you are sooo insignificant” in a sarcastic voice it continues to say, “Just look at you dangling at the end of the arm, I don’t need you!” Have you ever heard somebody say, “I don’t need you?” Anybody who says I don’t need actually exposes the fact that they are the ones who desperately needs somebody.
We are all bound together in the bundle of life, we have an inter-dependency that ties us together and the truth is I need you and you need me! “Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be…” a wise quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But yet, there are a few saints who will not accept everyone as their equal even in the house of God, Paul says, we are “…many members, yet but one body” that’s just how close we are or at least should be.
1.) We Are Many Members
We are many members, but one body and all do not have the same function. Guess what? God purposely made it that way, and Paul had to continually write the Corinthian church to remind them of what God said concerning the Church. Corinth had its backdoor problems. Many problems come in at the back door as an individual enters the church. They bring their false ideas, customs, etc. The rich want all to act like rich folks; the poor, like the poor; businessmen.... wanted to be recognize as businessmen, and politician as politicians, etc. Paul had his work cut out for him when it came to the Corinthian church. They had a deep problem of getting along with the brethren (1 Corinthian 6: 1 – 8). They were still babes in Christ, and they forced Paul to take on the role of a spiritual babysitter. Do you realize how difficult it is to get grown-ups who act like children to start acting like adults again?
The underlining problem here in this text concerned spiritual gifts, in the Corinthian church there were some members who were less gifted and as a result they were treated as if they were an unimportant and insignificant part of the body of Christ. They were labeled as being less able, less capable, less worthy, insignificant, unimportant, inadequate, and ungifted. Which was totally untrue, Paul here had to reshape their thought patterns and let them know that in no uncertain terms the body of Christ is not one significant member, there was no one individual who alone could be called a celebrity of the Church while everyone else are just spectators who are there to watch him entertain as they bask in his glory and simply piggy back off his god-given gift. Paul had to distribute the truth that God has not given anybody (one individual) everything, but He has given everybody (all of us) something.
In the Church, there is no need to sit around and belittle one another. There is no need to talk about, criticize, and utterly bring down a fellow member, we are all on the same side, and we are engaging in spiritual warfare with a common enemy. I’ve even witnessed the pastor of a particular Church speak horribly about a few members of the church that God called him to pastor and I automatically began to wonder whether or not this pastor knew that God was indeed standing at the door, and the conversation he was having against his own sheep also involved God Himself, and I wondered what will he say when God ask him to give an account of that particular correspondence? We are for sure many members and one body.
Now here in the text, the eye did tell the hand, “I don’t need you” but let’s take a look at just how wrong the eye’s observation really was.
2.) We All Need A Helping Hand
The shoulder, the forearm, and the wrist all end at the hand. It really doesn’t matter how strong the shoulder is, or how strong the forearm and the wrist is. If the hand is weak it will circumvent the strength of the shoulder, forearm, and wrist. Can you see already why we all need a helping hand? If not, here is something else to consider. There are five bones in the palm of the hand, and there are eight bones in the wrist. Let’s not forget that there are two rows of ligaments as well, there are fourteen bones in the fingers, and from the armpits there are lines and lines of nerves running from the armpit to the forty-six muscles in the hand.
With that said, the Bible refers to the hand fourteen hundred and thirty-three times. You see the hand is so special that only God could have made a hand. Well you may ask what about the man-made robotic hand? Doesn’t it do more and work much, much faster than the human hand? And the answer is yes, but the mere fact that it was designed and made by man still makes it well over million times less effective than the hands God gave us, anything made by man is temporary and is prone to failure. I believe that God gave us hands for something much more greater than mass-production. We can use our hands to hold someone else’s hands while they are lying in their sick bed. We can use our hands to change the diaper of a precious little newborn and comfort them as they cry. We can use our hands to wipe away our own tears when the need arises. And I am sorry; I just don’t think that the eye that Paul speaks about in the text had any right to put down the hand.
3.) We All Need A Watchful Eye
Nonetheless, we do need the eye. The eye does play a very important part role within the body. However, the eye does need the hand and the hand needs the eye. When I need to pick up an object I must be able to see where it is, and if I see the object in question it is impossible for me to pick it up with my eye, that’s when I have to call on my hands. However, if there is danger lurking around my hands are unable to alert me—that’s when I need my eyes.
You see the eyes brings the danger into focus, you don’t actually see the danger with your eyes; you really see it with your mind. If trouble is coming my way my eyes brings it into focus and then transfer the picture to my mind. My mind which also a part of the body, will begin to analyze the situation, place it in the proper category, decide that trouble is indeed approaching, and in turn calls on the hand to do its part and come to the rescue. My eye was my first line of defense, and even though my eye cannot physically defend me—but my hands sure can. Once my eye transfers the picture to my mind, that is all it can do and then it is my hand to the rescue. Now Paul’s illustration may seem a bit foolish to the natural mind, but to those of us who love the Lord it hits us right where we live. It makes sense to us because it helps us to fully understand that everyone has a purpose and a role in God’s house, in the body of Christ.
I can remember a very dedicated brother who was a charter member of a small church. He didn’t join the choir, he was not an usher, he was not made a deacon or trustee by the pastor, in fact he had absolutely no church title or appointed position within this particular small church.
People most of the time treated him as being a bit insignificant, they barely spoke to him on Sunday morning. However, he did do one particular thing and he did it quite well. He passed out the Sunday morning church program and bulletin and he never missed a Sunday. When the congregants enter the church he was normally the first to be approached often without so much as a hello or good morning, but that was alright with him because he always believed that when you see someone without a smile, you should just give them yours.
It had to be over forty years or more, just like clockwork he was always there to pass out the programs and bulletins. However, one Sunday morning he was missing. The church was in disarray, the programs were missing, the church got a very late start, members began to start pointing fingers at each other as to whose fault it was, that one particular Sunday didn’t go as well as all the other the previous Sundays. The pastor announced that the dedicated brother who passed out the programs had gone home to be with the Lord early that morning. It was then and only then did the Church realize that it everybody’s fault because they never thought about just how significant he really was, he was actually a very important part of the Church body but it was too late to tell him thank you. He kept a watchful eye over something that everyone else felt was insignificant and he used his hand to pass it out. We are all one body with many members!
4.) Shake Somebody’s Hand
There is a very beautiful song sung by Ms. Diana Ross entitled, “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand” part of the lyrics are “make this world a better place if you can”. In the Church this is Christs’ final instruction prior to His ascension, “Go ye therefore and teach ALL nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and Holy Ghost:” in short, He was saying reach out and tough somebody’s hand and show them the love of God. “All nations” not a few nations. Well, where should I start? Why don’t start at home? Shake and hold somebody’s hand, this is normally what we do; well at least in the Church I belong to. We hold each other’s hand as we come to God in prayer. The Bible tells us that where there are two or three gathered in His name, God is there with them. The holding of hands is symbolic of the unity and the fellowship of the people doing the praying.
If I am holding my neighbors, I cannot be or rather I should not be angry with him or her or think that I have some sort of advantage over them in the Kingdom of God and within the body of Christ. If I am looking them in the eye, it ought to be with a look of love rather than that of disdain and arrogance. Because even if I don’t know them by name—God does! And if God is my Father, and God is his or her Father that automatically makes us brothers and sisters. It is true as can be, “the eye cannot say to the hand, I don’t need you” the pastor can’t tell one his members that I don’t need you because you are not as important as another one of his members who happens to give more to the Church or is more loyal and faithful to him than you are.
The Church member cannot say to the pastor I don’t need you because you are not like the previous pastor of whom I was much fonder of and because he pastored this Church for umpteen years, while you’ve only pastored for a few. Here is something that you ought to do every time you come to Church. You ought to make sure that you shake somebody’s hand. Shake the hand of someone you don’t usually shake hands with; tell that brother or that sister you’re glad to see them and then really mean it. Remind them of how important and significant they really are. Somebody will be there I guarantee you, who will need a handshake and a hug from you. So please do not pass up the opportunity.
When you shake somebody’s hand, I don’t want you to give him or her one of those ol’ dishwater flimsy handshakes. Give them a warm I love you and you are appreciated handshake! When you shake their hand put some electricity into it, put a lot of love into it, go ahead and shake somebody’s hand. Look them in the eye and say I really do need you! Shake a child’s hand, because they’re so often overlooked as being a part of the body when they really are. Shake a teenager’s hand because you really don’t know what they’re going through on the school’s campus everyday and they need some reassurance that someone else other than their parents loves them.
Shake an adult’s hand, it’s possible that they had rough week last week, and the tears are just about to fall. Shake a seasoned saints hand, whose sun is shining and they are in the September of their lives right now. Don’t leave anybody out, because we are all tied together. And you know what? The old hymn we used to sing is right when it says, “Bless the ties the binds our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds Is like that to that above. Before our Father’s throne, We pour our ardent prayers; Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, Our comforts and our cares. We share each other’s woes, Our mutual burdens bear; And often for each other flows, The sympathizing tear.” The eye ought to turn to the hand this morning and say, ‘I do need you, I really, really do.’ And please my beloved brothers and sisters don’t leave anybody out. Amen.