40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ~Matthew 25:40
I would like to start this post with a request. It is a simple request, but sometimes the simplest things are the most difficult. I want you to read this post with a mind towards action. Read this post with the purpose of discerning God’s command to you. Obedience will make an enormous difference.
It is currently less than a week from Christmas. In my home, the vast majority of the gifts for family and friends are purchased, the house is decorated and the cookies will soon be baked. We have been talking about the coming of Jesus with our children, and sharing the Biblical stories surrounding the birth of Jesus. I would like to take a moment to share what is probably a familiar story to you, the story of the Magi visiting Jesus. The story is found in Matthew 2:1-12 and begins with the Magi coming to Jerusalem looking for the Messiah. King Herod schemes to have the Magi give the location of Jesus and instructs the Magi to bring him news so that he too may worship Him. They followed the star of prophecy to the place where Jesus was and were overjoyed to find Him. They worshiped Him and presented the baby with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Magi were warned in a dream not to return to King Herod, so they return home without giving Herod the information concerning Jesus’ location.
These men were able to give Jesus physical gifts. They presented Jesus with gifts worthy of a king, to show their belief He was the King of the Jews. In this, the season of giving, what can we give our Lord? At first glance, it may seem we have little to offer the King of Kings. However, the parable of the sheep and the goats shines light on the subject (I have only included part of the parable. See here for the full parable.) In Matthew 25: 34-40, the Bible says:
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Did you catch that? “Whatever you did for one of the LEAST of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Jesus even gives some examples of how they served these people: they fed them, gave them water, invited strangers in, provided clothing, cared for the sick and visited the imprisoned. Physical needs were provided to those in need. However, Jesus also implores us to care for others by welcoming strangers and visiting the imprisoned. The emotional needs are important too.
At the beginning, I asked you to read this with a mind towards action. You may be thinking, “I already do this. I give each Christmas to those in need.” If this is the case, God bless you, but perhaps there is something more God wants you to see. Perhaps there is a different need He wants you to focus on, and perhaps it does not take money (although if you are blessed with the ability to share your treasure, I hope you will do so generously). Do you know someone who is hurting? Perhaps someone who has lost a loved one, is facing the heartbreak of a family falling apart, someone who struggles with depression, anxiety, or another mental disorder, or someone who is lonely because their last child just left for college. I would venture to guess all of us know someone who could use our love right now. What would it take? Could you invite them over for a cup of coffee? Perhaps you could send them a letter, or even a quick note letting them know you care. Maybe a friend is overdue for a night out. Whatever it is, contact that person soon! Put it on your calendar. Make it a priority. I believe that these “small” acts of love have big effects.
Finally, if you are able to help meet the physical needs of others, but don’t know where to start, I have included some resources below that help a variety of people. You can also find numerous local resources by contacting your church, the Salvation Army or by looking in your phone book. I would imagine that all of you have people in need in your own community. Are you not in a situation to give large amounts of money? Do not let that stop you from giving. Volunteer at a local food bank, buy some extra staple goods on sale and deliver them to your local food bank, or donate the clothing your family no longer wears. Do what you can, but do something! I pray that STARTING this Christmas, you give gifts to Jesus by helping others.
Note: I invite you to research these organizations. I have done basic research, and they fit the needs I want to serve.
World Vision (America and the World) – http://www.worldvision.org/The Salvation Army – http://salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf
Feeding America (There are many others!) – http://feedingamerica.org/