Summary: I could quite easily justify not even stopping...But I was reminded that unshackled hands are not concerned about how or why – only that there is a need and I should do something about it.
A well dressed woman was on an African Safari that stopped in a leper hospital. The air was humid and sticky. Flies buzzed in frenzy. The woman noticed a nurse bending toward a patient, attending a leper’s pus-filled sores. The woman said, “I wouldn’t do that for all the money in the world” to which the nurse replied, “Neither would I.”
To live an unshackled life is to respond to the rhythm of the heart of God. It is to put oneself in high seas of risk and costly investment in the life of another person. One lives this way fully conscious of our Source of power with the hope of heaven in full view.
This is week three in our continuing series of messages on “Learning to serve in a Service-less Age”.
- Week 1 – The Transplanted Heart…a change that assumes the servant posture of Jesus instead of posturing for position. The only way to greatness is from the ground in service to another.
Unshackled hands – a subject that pulls us past judgment to mercy. Unshackled hands do not concern themselves with the ‘how’ or ‘why’ of a circumstance. It does not spend time analyzing whose fault it is but the fact that the reality before me needs help.
The alternative to having unshackled hands are chained hands; chained to safety and personal security; chained to legalism and judgement. Chained hands allow us to make excuses that justify doing nothing when we should do something.
We will discover today if indifference shackles us to our personal desires, needs and preferences or if we live with unshackled hands as we freely respond to the people God places in our road.
First lesson about unshackled hands:
1. Unshackled hands are the expression of an unshackled heart
“33…when he saw him he took pity on him.”
I’ve been preparing for this sermon all week. Because of that my mind may have been more keen than normal when I pulled into the Zeller’s parking lot on Thursday. A young man was changing a tire. I went along to ask if things were okay (after all, I can’t prepare for today and not demonstrate the heart of being a Good Samaritan). He told me he was simply removing the ‘dummy’ tire and replacing it with the new one. He assured me things were okay and away I went, rather proud of myself that I had stopped by. Only after I had left did I realize my missed opportunity. God didn’t call me to help replace the tire. It was to give the young man the extra gloves I had in the van for I noticed his hands were bare and it was a cold day. Lord, forgive.
I could quite easily justify not even stopping by. The question hit me, “Why is he changing a tire in the middle of a parking lot on a very cold day? Why not wait until tomorrow or take it to a garage and have them change it? The least he could have done was dress for the season; it’s not summer after-all.” But I was reminded that unshackled hands are not concerned about how or why – only that there is a need and I should do something about it.
As the Samaritan walked the road that day, he could have used the same logic as the other travelers. Socially speaking there were reasons to keep going, one of them being, “It’s your own fault.” The beaten and bruised traveler was near dead on a route called “The Bloody Way”. He knew that, so he put himself at careless risk to be out there alone. His stupid neglect is not uncommon though. The three who showed up that day also seemed to be traveling alone. Had they traveled the road before this victim, it could have been them lying in the dirt bleeding to death, needing help.
The logic of bad choices and stupid decisions on life’s road does not weigh down unshackled hands. These hands do not conduct a Social evaluation to analyze if they should respond or not. They simply have to get involved and help!
Lesson number two:
2. Unshackled hands take risks
“34He went to him”
He went to him when the others kept going. One was heading to church. If this man was dead and he touched him the law would label him ‘ceremonially unclean’ and he could not perform his temple duties. Since he couldn’t be sure this man was dead or alive it was best to stay away which leads to the motto of the other: Safety first. This could have been a trap so it was safer not to risk it.
Eileen Guder, author of God, But I’m Bored:
“You can live on bland food so as to avoid an ulcer; drink no tea or coffee or other stimulants, in the name of health; go to bed early and stay away from night life; avoid all controversial subjects so as never to give offense; mind your own business and avoid involvement in other people’s problems; spend money only on necessities and save all you can. You can still break your neck in the bathtub, and it will serve you right.”