When Rene A. Spitz learned how to spell “love” many people benefited. Spitz was a social scientist interested in childhood development. He studied the lives of children placed in a European orphanage during World War II. The infants who entered the home were generally healthy and developing normally. They had great medical care and excellent food. Shortly after arriving, however, they began to change. Apathy set in, appetites disappeared, and many children grew lethargic. Within the first year, approximately 30 percent of the babies died. What happened? Food was present and medicine was present—but people were not. Nurses, who watched on average eight to twelve children, could not provide the personal attention the babies needed. And without being touched, held, and hugged the children could not survive. Jesus understood the importance of touch for communicating love. Notice what he did when one of society’s undesirables tried to get close.
When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.(Matthew 8:1-3 ESV)
“Jesus touched him!” I wonder … had the leper ever been touched before? I am sure the man had seen plenty of hands that waved him away, heard the rude comments of heartless people, and put up with the rubberneckers who cast a quick glance at his emaciated body as they hurried by. But had anyone ever touched him? Had anyone ever put a warm hand on his cold body? I doubt it.
In our day we spell love L-O-O-K-S, or F-E-E-L-I-N-G-S, or S-E-X! Jesus was different. He spelled love T-O-U-C-H! Jesus knew people needed his power, but he also knew they needed his touch. They need ours too! It may be a handshake, a slap on the back, a gentle hand on the shoulder, or a big bear hug. Whatever way we give it, the message is always the same: “You are important to me. I care about you. You matter!” Spell L-O-V-E for someone today!
FOCAL POINT: Obviously, we can’t just walk down the street indiscriminately touching everyone we meet. But God will put someone in our path today that needs our gentle gesture of love. Be on the lookout, and be prepared to give it.