“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” – Matthew 25:40.
Something unique and most often positive happens when we help someone. I’m not talking about running a friend to the airport and then that friend reciprocating by giving you a lift home from the office. That is exchanging favors. I mean when you help someone who has no ability to repay you. Scripture says that help given to the poor is actually a gift given directly to God as is pointed out in Matthew 25:40.
So when we see a need, we should view it from two angles. One: the poor need our help. And two: God Himself is asking for our help. Jesus is calling for our help with people he calls “the least of these.” The person who is mentally or physically challenged; people who are homeless, or hungry, or refugees; people in prison; people who might need just a little help to live productive lives—all are among “the least of these.” While Jesus wants us to be compassionate and caring to all people, this passage is primarily about how we treat those the world seems to think are the least, but whom Jesus values as His disciples. The least, the last, and the left out become the primary ones who come to Jesus and find life, love, and lasting hope. Jesus’ promise is that as we care for those in Jesus’ community, no matter their circumstance, we are caring for Him. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta put it, “When we look into the face of one of them, we see the face of Jesus.”
During His earthly ministry, Jesus and His followers constantly pursued those who seemed far from God and forgotten by society. He invested a lot of His time into the “least of these:” the poor, the hungry, the broken, the weak and the people who had absolutely nothing to offer Him. As His followers, He calls us to do the same today. We can choose to ignore those people in the world around us and miss an amazing opportunity to experience Jesus. There is life, love and opportunities to become just a little bit more like Jesus today and serve the least of these.
To encounter a person who otherwise might be ignored or disregarded is truly to encounter the living presence of Christ. Jesus is entrusting the poor, the most vulnerable in society, to our care. Let us respond to this call. Our task is simply to reach out and show Jesus’ love. My prayer is that the Lord will open your eyes to see His face in the faces of people who are down and out, disadvantaged, or challenged in other ways. And pray for a willingness to reach out and bring out the hero in all of us.
- Who are the least of these in your community?
- How do you personally respond to those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, sick, and imprisoned?
- How do you think our response to the least of these reveals whether we’re truly part of God’s kingdom?