Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.
Taking Care of Business
Luke 2.41-50 tells a terrific story. Each year, Mary, Joseph, and their family join a caravan that travels to Jerusalem for Passover. On this particular occasion, Jesus is 12 and He spends long hours with the temple’s teachers, who are dumbfounded by His prodigious understanding. Passover ends, everyone packs up, and heads home. A day passes before Joseph and Mary realize Jesus isn’t with the rest of the group. They return to Jerusalem, spending three anxious days scouring the city to locate Him. They find Him in the temple—the last place one would expect an adolescent boy—and Mary scolds Him for the worry and inconvenience He’s caused. “Why did you seek me?” Jesus asks, alluding to the fact they should have known they’d find Him where He was. “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2.49; NKJV)
This was the first instance of what would become one of Jesus’s most telltale traits: He was constantly taking care of business. He remained engaged, making time to take time for others’ questions and needs. Although people didn’t always get what they came to Jesus for, He turned none of them away without hearing their requests and either meeting or challenging them. It was exhausting, time-consuming work. When Jesus felt overly taxed, He wisely pulled back to regain His energy and composure. Mark 6.31 tells us at one point things got so hectic He nor the disciples had time even to eat. Jesus says, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Then, newly restored, they get back to work.
While people referred to Jesus as “Rabbi,” as far as we know from Scripture He had no training to certify His qualifications. He had no formal title and held no permanent position. He wasn’t placed in a job. Jobs were placed around Him. When something needed doing—feeding multitudes, communing with sinners, opposing injustice, consoling the bereaved, touching the sick, and so on—He didn’t acquiesce to others originally slated for those tasks. Any need that gained His attention meant someone else was either indifferent about or incapable of doing his/her job. Throwing up His hands in frustration over systemic and moral neglect wouldn’t help the problems at hand. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,” says Ecclesiastes. That’s what He did. Personal suffering was His immediate concern. Social and religious irresponsibility also concerned Him. Yet He reserved His comments on “bigger picture” issues for times when His audience consisted of leaders and officials charged with those duties. Jesus didn’t take up a “cause” and leave it at that. He took on the job of finding something to do and He got the job done.
The Day Shift
“As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work,” Jesus tells the disciples in John 9.4. Solomon finishes his admonition to handle jobs as we find them with a similar thought: “for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” Followers of Christ work the day shift. We’re awake, alert, and able to see needs around us. They’re placed in our lives and field of view so we can meet them with love, compassion, and understanding. We can’t escape opportunities to help anyone’s immediate pain by reasoning the system is broken, others are better qualified, or it’s none of our business. His children’s welfare being God’s business makes it our business, too. Except for brief rests to reinvigorate our energy, we should be on the job, predictably seen in places and among people in need, doing the work of Him Who sends us. Let’s look around us. What do we see? A lonely neighbor. An outcast acquaintance. A hungry family. An ailing child. A misunderstood friend. There's no shortage of jobs that others have left undone. When we find something to do, let’s do it—and do it with all our might.
Needs at hand are reasons to reach.
(Tomorrow: Breaking the Law)