Responding to those in need.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’
Awhile back as I was driving, running one various errand or another, I came up to an intersection. It was a corner where I would often see people standing next to the street with signs: Just want food. Homeless. Veteran. Disabled. Need money for rent. Kids at home. Cold and Hungry. There was always a variety of signs all essentially saying the same thing. On this day, I approached praying the light would remain green, hoping I could avoid that awkward red light “I’m stopped right next to you” exchange. As the light turned yellow and then red, I sighed and stopped, looking straight ahead. Do I dare glance over? Can I avoid eye contact? Slowly, I glanced over trying to catch a glimpse of the sign this man held. As I began to read it, I couldn’t help but smile.
The sign read: Not homeless. Not hungry. Just broke and trying to pay off debt.
While I appreciated his honesty, this situation and my reaction to it, is a memory that I think of often. Why was I suddenly so willing to accept this man’s situation with no judgement but so quick to judge and avoid others?
And then recently I saw this sign: Very Human. Please.
“As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Who am I to judge anyone in need? Who am I to assume that their money went to support a habit or that they brought this situation onto themselves with their own bad decisions?
Who am I?
The truth of the matter is that we were all created in the image of God. Every single one of us. Knowing that should drastically change how we, as believers, respond to anyone and everyone. How different would our lives look if we responded to others as if it were Christ in front of us? How different would our attitudes be? Would we have more compassion? Would we be more willing to help? Would we be less selfish? Would anything change?
“As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
God responded to us and our sin by sending his one and only son to die for us. Jesus died for you and me. Someone gave up their life for us. In comparison to that, helping someone in need should be the least we can do. When was the last time you responded to someone in need? Someone in need of the basic needs in life? Or perhaps someone in need of a friend? Someone to come alongside them and listen? When was the last time you walked away from someone, anyone, in need? “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” How will you respond?