The Least of These
When Jesus was teaching about the final judgment, he said that doing acts of compassion to the “least of these” is the same as doing it to him (Matthew 25:40). The take-it-home-and-use-it message in Jesus’ teaching about the “least of these” is that the phrase "least of these" is most important. It is not a “least of these” matter. Jesus showed it to have life or death consequences—for all eternity!
Assess yourself on this: Do you feel good when you chip in to help your local ministries for “the least of these”—the Red Kettle, your local rescue mission, or a food pantry? Maybe it was only rounding up to an even dollar when pigging out on fast food, but, ahhhhh yes, if you are typical you bask in the warmth of being a do-gooder, even if a chintzy one. It was just like doing it to Jesus, you think as you pat pat pat your own back
Do you know the other side of the coin in this lesson? Jesus said that not helping the “least of these” is the same as not helping him (Matthew 25:45).
This is so important that it was the first lesson in Christian belief taught to Paul (then known as Saul). When, walking to Damascus, he was struck to the ground and blinded by a bright light, he heard a voice saying, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” It was Jesus, who then said, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5).
Did Saul go to Damascus to persecute Jesus? Seems to be a silly question until we learn that persecution of his followers is persecution of Jesus. Ridicule them and you ridicule Jesus; belittle them and you belittle Jesus; ignore their needs and you ignore Jesus.
Assess yourself on that: Do you feel as ashamed about what you don’t do (that you easily have could have done), as you feel good about making piddling little contributions every once in a while? Do you feel remorseful and repentant about arrogance to “them” or “that kind?” Do you joke about, speak disparagingly about, or silently curse even people you don’t know? Do you think insults—even in church?
When you do wrong to “the least of these” or anyone else, you do wrong to Jesus Christ.
What you do or don’t do is none of my business. I knew that seven paragraphs ago. But when 60% of the folks in nursing homes do not get more than one visit from an outsider in one year, it grieves the heart of God. Yet there are swarms of church folks out there who flat out don’t care. And whom they don’t care about is Jesus.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to talk to God. Not about you; about my sins.