Matthew 25:34-40 “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
James 1:27, Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
James 2:14-20, What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
1 John 3:16-18, Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
Jude 1:22, And of some have compassion, making a difference:
As I mentioned in my last post, even with the most casual reading of the Bible, especially the New Testament, one will soon come to the conclusion and conviction that, while God loves everyone, there is a special place in the heart of God for the poor and the needy, the helpless, and the marginalized. I refer to these as “the least of these” because this is how Jesus referred to them in Matthew 25.
While there is some disagreement on exactly how to interpret it, I have often said, “It doesn’t matter how we slice and dice Matthew 25:31-46, there just is no way of getting around the fact that our Master, the Lord Jesus, is concerned about the poor, the sick, the needy, the hurting, and the marginalized of a society, and He expects His people to be concerned for them also!”
Whether we are talking about orphans, widows, the poor, immigrants, refugees, racial minorities, or others marginalized by mainstream society – and for the mission-minded Christian, I would add “unreached people groups”– God has not been silent on the church’s responsibility to show compassion and care for “the least of these.”
Most of us, who have known the Lord for any length of time, and have done much Bible reading at all, know and understand that God is compassionate and that He expects us to be a compassionate people. We also know that God loves the poor, the needy, the helpless, and the marginalized. And yet, for many of us, there seems to be a great disconnect between what we KNOW and what we DO!
If we are not careful, we can slowly and subtly be lulled into a state of satisfaction, safety, serenity, and may I say INDIFFERENCE, neglecting the many needs of “the least of these,” both “around the corner” and “around the world,” rather than being stirred within by a deep discontent and a desire to do something for them!
Someone has said, and rightly, I believe, “The church has forgotten the incisive words of Jesus in the parable of the sheep and the goats: that Jesus is most likely to be found among the poor, the hungry, the unclothed, and the imprisoned — not necessarily in the places of worldly power: Congressional offices, court rooms, or the hallowed halls of the White House.”
Over the next few reflections, we will consider a few of these groups beginning with the poor that would be considered “the least of these,” and I am praying that we will pause, ponder, and pray, asking God to break our hearts and fill them with the compassion of Christ, as we seek to know what we should do and how we should do it!
Just Reflecting on the Least of These!