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Withered Hands or Withered Heart

Robert H.  Hutchins reminds us of the need to seriously consider the things we get so serious about with the following thought-provoking words: "It is not so important to be serious as it is to be serious about the important things.  The monkey wears an expression of seriousness which would do credit to any scholar, but the monkey is serious because he itches.  "In Mark 3:1-6 Jesus finds Himself in the presence of some people who are doing some serious itching.  As Jesus enters a synagogue in Capernaum, Mark records, "a man was there who had a withered hand" (vs 1).  Jesus heals the man's withered hand so that "his hand was restored as whole as the other" (vs 5).  A reason for joy and rejoicing, right?  But not everybody present was happy.  Mark records that scribes and Pharisees were also in the synagogue, and that "they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him" (vs 2).  Let us be clear to note that while Jesus was breaking no actual Sabbath law, He was breaking scribal laws and traditions.  That is, He was breaking the man-made rules the scribes and Pharisees had hedged about the law of God.  That was serious business to the scribes and Pharisees.  So much so that after the incident, Mark records in vs 7: "Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.  " They left a worship service and plotted murder!

A powerful poem reminds us that a withered heart is a more serious problem than a withered hand:

Two cripples entered a church one day;
Crippled, but each in a different way. 
One had a body, strong and whole,
But it sheltered a warped and twisted soul. 
The other walked with a halting gate
But his soul was tall and fair and straight!
They shared a pew.  They shared a book. 
But on each face was a different look. 
One was light with hope and joy
And faith that nothing could destroy. 
The other joined not in prayer and hymn,
No smile relaxed his features grim. 
His neighor had harmed him, his heart was sore. 
He thought of himself and nothing more. 
The words that were read from the Holy Book
Struck deafened ears and a forlorn look. 
To one came comfort - his soul was fed. 
The other gained nothing from what was said. 
Two cripples left the church that day,
Crippled - but in a different way. 
A twisted foot did one body mar,
But the twisted soul was sadder by far!
(author unknown)

A withered heart will hinder our love for other people and our worship toward God. 

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ