Exodus 32:4-6

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” the saying goes—although in this case, you might spell idle as i-d-o-l. Whatever variation of this old proverb we use, the point is that when we actively do good work, we’re less likely to get into trouble. St. Jerome said it this way: “engage in some occupation, so that the devil may always find you busy.”

Exodus describes Aaron’s fashioning of the idol as a labor-intensive process. When he takes matters into his own hands, they divert the Israelites’ attention away from God, and away from relying on God. 

Our hands are an amazing, miraculous feature of our bodies. Each one is a glove of flesh and pulsing blood, covering 27 bones that work together to accomplish amazing, miraculous things. 

Think of the hands of surgeons, pianists, writers, painters, builders, teachers, programmers, nurses, machinists, athletes, parents, bus drivers, farmers, salesclerks. Hands folded in prayer. Hands waving, covering, straightening, weaving, tying, carrying, giving, receiving, blessing, cooking, serving. Hands open for welcoming, for sharing. Hands closed to embrace, enfold. Hands holding other hands. Hands loosening knots we make. Hands clothing the naked, breaking bread.

Small, young, plump, soft, large, old, wrinkled, calloused, cracked, even nail-pierced hands—what a blessing they are! How can we best use them when there’s so much good to do? 

When we set out to do the good work before us, our labor itself becomes a sacrament. Psalm 90:17 counsels, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands!” When joined to the hand of God, our hands work mysteriously.


What will my hands do today? How can I use them to bring God glory?


God, may my hands be your hands today for as much as I am willing to risk it. And strengthen my resolve to risk it. Amen.

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