It seems that every Passover season, you can almost be certain that the classic movie The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston is shown on one of the major networks. I must admit, it is one of my all-time favorite movies. I must have watched it more than twenty times, and every time I watch this classic I seem to learn something new.
For those of us who have seen the movie, we all remember where Moses goes out and sees the burning bush and God asks Moses, “What’s in your hand?” Moses appears rather surprised at the question (at least in the movie). Perhaps he was expecting a more profound question. Moses replies, “It’s a staff.”
Then God tells him to throw it down. To Moses’ surprise, it becomes a snake. Then God speaks again and commands him to pick it up again, and the serpent becomes a staff again. Needless to say, God now has Moses’ attention.
Of course God knew what was in Moses’ hand—a shepherd staff. The question was more significant than just what Moses was holding in his hand.
Staffs in those days were very significant for a shepherd. One could say it almost defined who he was. It is not unlike some things we wear on the job that define us.
First, the staff represented a shepherd’s identity. It was a symbol of his occupation. If you were a shepherd, you carried a staff. Secondly, it represented his influence or power. What was the use of his staff? It was mainly used to move his sheep from point A to point B. The staff had power and influence.
When God changed the staff into a serpent, He was showing Moses some things He could do to enhance Moses’ power and influence that the staff represented. Of course, if one read about the real account in Exodus, we find out that all the miracles that God performed in Egypt were through Moses’ staff. God took what Moses had in his hand and used it exponentially to fulfill His purpose. No doubt Moses had a greater appreciation for the humble staff in his hand.
This begs the question then: What is in your hand? Or put in another way, what kind of influence and power do you possess that God can enhance and multiply in you for the extension of His kingdom?
Many people’s mind-set today is that they have to do something big in order to make a noticeable impact in today’s needy world. This is simply not true. God has given us many gifts (great and small) for us to use to make an influence, as Jesus alluded to in the parable of the sower. The Apostle Paul also reminds us in Romans 12 to use our gifts according to the grace that God has given us:
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:6-8, New King James Version)
Yes, there are many things we hold in our hand, so to speak, and if we allow God to use them, then He will (as He did with Moses) multiply and enhance them for the cause of His Kingdom.
If one feels that they still don’t possess any of the above gifts, then Paul reminds us a little further in this chapter that everyone can have the gift of compassion and kindness:
“Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” (Romans 12:10, NKJV)
Anyone, whether great or small, can hold the gift of kindness in his or her hands. The world is full of needy people and random acts of kindness can go a long way in making this world a better place.
However, it seems so easy today to become engrossed in our own affairs, where we lose sight of our duty to our fellow man. In the rat race to make ends meet and our pursuit of “the good life,” we forget that real contentment comes from lending a helping hand. Reaching out to the needy is a sure source of true happiness and fulfillment.
Deep down the vast majority of us have the desire to make a difference, but the preoccupation with our own pursuits and interests can stymie that noble intention.
The world is full of needy people and we don’t have to look very far to find someone in need of a helping hand. Who among us is not moved with compassion when we see these victims of suffering and displacement as a result of war and brutality in the Middle East, or the images of starving children and diseases in Africa? Anyone can take the time to seize the opportunity to engage in random acts of kindness and compassion, however small, for the good of their neighbor, whether it is far-off Africa or just down the street. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus defined our neighbor as anyone who is in need.
Sometimes fear can make us hesitate to get involved, as was the case with Moses before God asked him what was in his hand. Moses feared the unknown until God assured him that He would be with him. (Exodus 3:11-12) This is not unlike many of us who fear the unknown. But God assures us He will be with us as well. This fear and hesitation to get involved causes a great deal of coldness in the world. This results in a certain degree of timidity, a kind of mindset of being too afraid to do anything, resulting in indifference and insensitivity, making our potential (our staff) ineffective.
So, what is in your hand?
For more information on God's nature, read the free Bible study aid, "Who is God?"