/ Coronavirus / James Faris

Handwashing and Coronavirus; Good, but Not Good Enough

Like other churches, our congregation is taking precautionary steps to guard against the spread of COVID-19, and we will continue to monitor the situation. Among other changes, our greeters will not be shaking hands, we will temporarily alter regular practices regarding the Lord’s Supper and the collection of tithes and offerings, we encourage high-risk members to remain home and participate in the worship service via livestream, and we ask those with any sickness to remain home as a kindness to others. Of course, we also ask members to vigilantly WASH YOUR HANDS!

Wash your hands. It’s a simple, common-sense practice and a good disease-preventative for yourself and others. As we lather-up, God gives us a wonderful opportunity to meditate, especially in the present crisis, on our greatest need. How so?

Coronavirus has ended the lives of many around the globe. It will likely take many more lives; we can slow the spread of such diseases by washing our hands. But the death rate remains 100% for everyone, eventually, of one cause or another. We die because of our spiritual uncleanness; we die because of our sin. That’s why our time in front of the wash basin should point our minds to eternity.

Long ago, Job reflected on the handwashing techniques his mother had presumably taught him when he said,

If I wash myself with snow and cleanse my hands with lye, yet you will plunge me into a pit, and my own clothes will abhor me (Job 9:30-31).

In context, Job was asking “How can a man be in the right before God?” (Job 9:2). Job knew that handwashing, even with lye, would not make him innocent or keep him from death.

Not even the effort to be a morally good neighbor by diligent handwashing will earn us points for heaven. No, the blood of Jesus, alone, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

So take a moment at the sink as you lather and scrub to confess your sins to the Lord in your own heart, and to confess afresh Jesus Christ as your only Savior. Teach your children these eternal truths as well, even as you remind them over and over to wash their hands. Parents can be irresponsible by not teaching their children to wash their hands well; others may be affected and infected as a result. But parents are most irresponsible who do not teach their children of the need for cleansing from sin.

We wash our hands to boldly step back out into the world around us. Handwashing also serves as reminder to move forward confidently in the midst of calamity. We must act wisely, and we must keep a right perspective. Jesus promised seasons of pestilence in this age, but we are not to be terrified. Rather, we are to endure (Luke 21:9-18). Christians are by nature, in Jesus Christ, more than conquerors. We must teach our children this great truth as well when we wash our hands. Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. Thus, we live every day to him.

Wash your hands well, and get back to whatever work of service the Lord has called you to next. Coronavirus, like every plague or pestilence on the earth, is a call for the confident endurance of the saints who have been cleansed by the blood of Christ.

James Faris

James Faris

Child of God. Husband to Elizabeth. Father of six. Pastor of Second Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ordained as a pastor in 2003.

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