“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” - Matthew 25:40
Right before He died, Jesus gave a talk on the Mt. of Olives. It’s commonly called the Olivet Discourse and it’s primarily about the future, when Christ returns. During that talk, He said, “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, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” - Matthew 25:35–36
When asked when Jesus was ever hungry or thirsty or needed clothes, He replied “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” You see, one of the attributes of God is mercy. Our God is a merciful God. We are called to show mercy as He shows mercy, particularly to other believers. That’s what Jesus is saying in Matthew. The way that we take care of the least of our brothers and sisters shows our love and care for Christ.
But it’s not just other believers we should be looking after. Have you ever heard the word gleaning? Let me use it in a sentence. “I watched ‘The Social Dilemma’ the other night and gleaned a lot about how AI is going to take over the world.”
Here’s another example:
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.” - Leviticus 19:9–10
When the Israelites harvested their crops, God commanded them to leave the edges of the fields and all of the crops they dropped (the gleanings) for the poor and the immigrants. By including the immigrants (sojourner), God was telling His people that they should provide for all who are in need that they can, not just their family.
What does this have to do with you?
There will always be someone more needy than you. Whether because of a lost job due to the pandemic, an immigrant family struggling in a new country, or the fight against human trafficking on the other side of the world, there will always be “the least of these.” And over and over, the Bible teaches us to care for them.
If you have money to give to others, that’s awesome. But it’s not just about giving money. A church I used to go to would say you can give of your time, treasure or talent. It’s silly and alliterative, but it’s true.
There are so many ways you can volunteer time to help the least of these. Food banks are always looking for short-term volunteers. Or I have a friend who is a foster child advocate, she fights on the behalf of foster children in the courts. Your church probably has an assistance ministry that could use your help!
That’s money. If you have it, give it! Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Give to your church. Give to an organization that feeds the hungry. Give to an organization, like India Partners, that rescues women and children from the red light district in Mumbai, India.
We all have skills. How can you use yours to benefit others? If you’re good with your hands, maybe you can go on a trip to an undeveloped country and build wells. If you’re not quite at that level yet, what about mowing the lawn of the elderly lady in your church? Or something in between!
One final thought
As you find ways to take care of the least of these, remember why you’re doing it. Remember what Jesus said in the Olivet Discourse. You are showing love to Christ when you show love to others. So don’t do it out of selfish ambition. That’s a Pharisee move. They would go to the temple to give their offerings and “splash the pot” with all of their coins so everyone knew how much they were giving. Their reward was the recognition from the few people who heard and who would forget as soon as they left. But when you give generously, seeking to honor God instead of yourself, your reward in heaven will be so much better.
So how are you taking care of the least of these?
by Rob Trahan