Getting My Hands Dirty
Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Genesis 9:23
A buddy and I have been doing a jail Bible study at the local jail for the last several years. I’m thankful for the opportunity, but I’ve noticed that I’m prone to maintaining a boundary between my jail life and my personal life. I’ll happily meet with a guy in jail, but when that same guy is being released, and he asks what church I go to, I sometimes hesitate. Do I want this guy showing up in my life? I’m willing to meet with him in jail, but am I willing to meet him for coffee? Do I want to be seen with him in public? Yes, jail is a little out of my comfort zone, but in jail, I can at least keep my personal life detached. Letting these guys into my daily life, sitting by them in church, is a whole different level of discomfort. There are times when it’s appropriate to maintain boundaries. There are individuals whom I really don’t want to know where I live. Overall, though, my uneasiness isn’t about my personal safety, but rather my personal comfort. I like my insulated life and if I’m going to get my hands dirty, I want to do it at the jail, where I can wash on the way out.
Today’s passage illustrates however, that to help others, we will often have to get personally involved. In the story, Noah got drunk and laid naked in his open tent, for all to see. Ham, his youngest son, pointed and laughed, but his two older sons discretely covered his nakedness. It was shameful for Noah to be exposed and so, it was shameful for those boys to see their father’s nakedness. They could have simply walked away, avoiding the awkwardness. Instead, though, they embraced the discomfort and did what they needed to do. Had they walked away, they would have been guilty of selfish apathy. Noah’s drunken debauchery wasn’t their fault, but if they’d have walked away, they would have had the blood of indifference on their hands.
I often find myself in potentially uncomfortable situations. There are always those around me in need. To help them though, frequently means getting my hands dirty. But I like my comfortable life! If I want to follow Christ though, then I must at least attempt to live as he lived – getting close to those in need. If however, in my selfishness, I refuse to get dirt on my hands, then I’ll find the blood of indifference on them. Jesus died for my sins. The least I can do is ask a guy out for coffee or sit by him in church.