Walter Lofton

February 26, 2014

In a wonderful bygone era the handshake was the sealing of an agreement between two people and a pledge of trustworthiness between them. Many legal and business deals were consummated by the simple but meaningful handshake.

We have progressed (or digressed) far from that noble standard of faith and trust in individuals since those days. In today’s society motorized, witnessed, even sometimes by multiple witnesses, and recorded documents are not enough to guarantee authenticity and trust in modern business deals.

In the present practice handshakes have diminished into a mere form of greeting, especially on an initial meeting and becoming acquainted basis. Many do not even wont to shake hands even on that basis anymore because they are afraid of contacting some disease. While that may be a wise consideration, we can usually rest easy if we follow sound advice from health experts and wash our hands frequently and thoroughly.

A handshake is more important than one may think. Researchers have observed that strangers form a better impression of each other after a handshake. Where negative vibes exist a warm friendly handshake can lead to a positive attitude. When interactions are not up to par a simple handshake can give a boost to acceptance and understanding.

Handshakes have been proven to increase the perception of trust and formality of a relationship, and helped to make a good impression. Historical anthropologists theorize that the handshake originated as a signal of peace. Over the centuries, the gesture developed into a universal greeting, a way to establish confidence and even close a business deal.

In our churches it is common to greet one another with a warm friendly handshake. The Scriptures admonishes us to greet one another. In so doing we recognize one another’s worth and establish an ongoing friendship. This sets the stage for a mutual worship experience and causes us to feel closer to our neighbor and friend.

Proverbs 18:24 states: “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly….” As a young boy my dad taught me to always speak to people. It was a custom where I grew up at to extend the hand while meeting a vehicle on the road as a form of greeting. Most everyone did this even though we did not always know the person in the other vehicle. After moving from my extreme southern roots I still maintained this practice. Many times the other person will pass me and never return the greeting but that does not stop me from being friendly. If you meet me in public and I wave or offer you my hand, it is because I am trying to maintain the biblical (and my long deceased father’s) standard of friendship. So when you meet me and I speak to you, in return please give me your hand.