At the time of this writing, we are under orders of “social distancing” so the practice of extending the right hand when you greet someone may not be in practice at the moment which simply means creative measures need to be practiced in order to accomplish the same impact of courtesy in the acknowledgement of others.
Go back before the order of “social distancing” and think of how you extended a greeting to someone you met. Were you the first to move or did you wait for them to make the first move to extend the hand in greeting? In a day of skepticism even before “social distancing,” most people you meet avoid making eye contact, and many will not even acknowledge a greeting. It may be disappointing and discouraging, but don’t give up. Even in times of “social distancing” when everyone seems to be skeptical of others who might possibly have the COVID19 virus, one can still be creative by making eye contact and bowing which was a common greeting from the past.
Mary Mitchell, author of The First Five Minutes: How To Make A Great First Impression In Any Business Situation says that being first to extend your hand gives you the advantage in business and life. That’s hardly an adequate reason to be the first to acknowledge, although it should be noted.
When you think of it, we hardly realize what a big impression we make when we extend our hand to greet or reach out to help another person. When writing about his experiences with the early church, Paul remembered receiving the right hand of fellowship which was a sign of acceptance and still is today. That meant a great deal to Paul, as it will mean to people you meet.
Galatians 2:9 (ESV) — 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
Paul is no different than those you and I meet every day. They are awaiting a word of kindness, a warm greeting, an indication of acceptance, and a smile. Demonstrating acceptance of others is not only the right thing to do on our part, but it can make someone’s day. Think about the times when you have been discouraged and someone greeted you with an upbeat word of encouragement.
Proverbs 25:11 (ESV) A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
It is interesting to note that the people who research such things as Mary Mitchell, have found that those who are the friendliest seem to have the upper hand in life, get the most notice, and often find the best opportunities. The Bible is quick to point out that being pleasant and friendly seems to jump out at others. We don’t have to draw attention to ourselves if we are friendly – just being friendly is such a change from the norm that it will be noticed.
Proverbs 27:9 (ESV) Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
When you think of extending your right hand in a way of greeting another (or in the case of social distancing) means to indicate the same, to extend your hand would also illustrate your reaching out to help another individual.
Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 (ESV) — 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
If you have ever had a need, you know how significant it is to have a friend, a true friend, extend the right hand as an indication of their willingness to step up and help. The Bible is quick to point out that ignoring a person in need and not extending a helping hand is a quick way to get something you would rather not receive from God. Being quick to give, however, is a sure way to get God’s attention.
Proverbs 28:27 (ESV) Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
Luke 6:38 (ESV) Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
You are now informed. You have every reason to take advantage of the promises to those who will extend their hand in acceptance of others and in the way of reaching out to help others. Even as in the day of “social distancing” you have to get creative in both applications.
Matthew 5:7 (ESV) Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Be creative and get out of your “self-focused shell” and extend yourself in an effort to greet others and in the way you show kindness to others today. It may just launch you to get you ahead in the world, but even better it opens the way of blessing coming back to you as you seek to bless and be a blessing to others. In addition, it’s simply what God has told us that we should do. Extend a hand to someone today, well maybe not literally your hand, but you know what I mean.