Stretching is practically a reflex when you wake up. After a good night’s sleep, you just can’t help yourself…it feels so good to stretch. Then the rest of the day, the challenge for most of us is to live a stretched out life. Far too often, we tend to shrink back and turn inward to our own concerns. Self prefers to drive and let service ride in the back seat.
As Peter thought deeply about what it means to truly serve and walk in Jesus’ steps, the Holy Spirit inspired these words:
“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1Peter 1:22 NASB).
That word “fervently” is translated from the Greek “extenos” which literally means “to stretch out the hand.” The word “tendon” is derived from this Greek word as it pictures a runner fervently, earnestly, intensely stretching out at the finish line.
As One who perfectly “ran the race” from start to finish (Hebrews 12:1-2), Jesus often stretched out His hands – to embrace the hurting, to touch the afflicted, to heal those in need, to welcome and encourage.
It’s not hard to visualize Jesus extending His hand to the lame and saying, “Get up and walk.” Or laying His hands on the leper and declaring, “Be cleansed.” Or opening blind eyes with a touch. Or taking a little girl by the hand to raise her from her “sleep.” Or reaching out to grip Peter’s hand to rescue him from the wind and waves.
Jesus was all about stretching out His hands. Can you imagine His ministry without it? But however instinctive it may appear, Jesus’ love and compassion for others was always motivated by first stretching out His hands to God in prayer to synchronize His heartbeat with the Father’s and then to do His will. This was never more evident than when Jesus willingly stretched out His hands and laid down His life on the cross.
So tomorrow morning when you wake up and stretch, remember just how far Jesus stretched out for you and seek to walk in His steps. First, stretch out your hands to God to hear His voice and receive His power, and then allow yourself to be stretched out to fervently love others.
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1Peter 4:8 NASB).
Spread the Word!
© 2014 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries