Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Weakest Member

Photo by LuisFi 2010

On a day at sea during our recent cruise to Cuba, I attended a complimentary “spa pampering party,” replete with beauty tips and an opportunity to try different facial products. One of the imparted nuggets of wisdom was to always use your ring finger to apply cream, lotion or serum to the eyelids and under-eye area. Because the ring finger is the weakest finger, it is best suited for touching this delicate skin without damaging it by causing undue pressure or friction.

It reminded me of the “five-finger prayer,” which we can use as a prayer guide to remember to pray for different groups of people. The thumb, which is closest to our body in most natural positions of the hand, represents our family, friends, and those closest to us. The index finger, also known as the pointer, symbolizes those who point us toward the truth of God’s Word, i.e. the pastors and teachers. The middle finger, being the tallest, reminds us to pray for government leaders, officials, and others in authority over us.

The ring finger, being the weakest, reflects those who are weakest among us because of physical or emotional frailty or financial need, or those who are spiritually lost because they have not yet trusted Christ as their Savior by believing that He died to pay for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) so that all who trust Him may have eternal life (John 3:16).

And finally, the fifth or little finger reminds to pray for ourselves last, because to have the servant mind and heart of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:1-8), we must put our own needs behind those of others. Doing this also puts our own problems in perspective and shows us that our own trials are not as severe as those of many of our brethren. It reminds us that our leading responsibility in prayer is to bear one another’s burdens,
love one another (1 John 3:11; Romans 12:9-10,16), and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-4).

Thinking about the ring finger being the weakest, and therefore paradoxically best equipped for the specific task of handling fragile skin, I began to reflect on whether the weakest members in the church body might also be uniquely suited for a particular purpose. Perhaps because of their weakness, they are in the best position to offer compassion, consolation and comfort to those who are also hurting (2 Corinthians 1:4-6), whether from illness, trials, or loss of fellowship with God or fellow believers because of unconfessed or willful sin.

Two examples come to mind from my own experience. The first was a physically disabled man who could not speak because of a severe facial deformity. Yet he was a model of faithfulness, attending church every time the doors were open, and making it a point to offer a comforting hug or holding up his hands folded in prayer for anyone with a prayer request or special need. I wonder how many with lesser physical problems were inspired to greater service because of his faithful service and willingness to use whatever abilities God had given him to His glory?

The second example was a brash, unpolished, impulsive man who suffered from post-traumatic stress, history of substance abuse, and physical injuries. He was a “loose cannon” when I first met him, and yet he underwent a rapid transformation once he came to know the Lord. He eagerly helped out in any church activity in which he was needed, even making his own ministry opportunities to answer unrecognized needs. Ultimately his personality changed and he became polite and self-restrained, yet he used his zeal to lead others to the Lord, especially those who had problems similar to his own.

The apostle Paul stresses the importance of each member in the church (Romans 12:4-8), or body of Christ, just as each part of our physical body is indispensable (1 Corinthians 12). God designed us in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27) to be fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). We all appreciate our eyes, ears, mouth and limbs, but do we recognize the importance of our little toe or our appendix? All it takes is for either of these to be injured or inflamed for us to be painfully aware of their presence (Proverbs 25:19). Medical science is now confirming the purpose of body parts like the tonsils, which ward off disease, even though these used to be removed routinely.

Similarly, the body of Christ should give thanks for, encourage, and welcome even the weakest member, for God designed each of us from before the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10) with a plan to glorify Him!     

© 2019 Laurie Collett