Yesterday morning, our church hosted a guest preacher, since our own pastor is on vacation with his wife. He was an old-school preacher, kind of going with the flow. It was a bit harder to follow for me, since I am so used to a straightforward, verse-by-verse approach. It’s been years since I have listened to preaching like this, and I had to give up on note-taking to just listen.
The theme he kept coming back to, and the one I took home with me, is that God calls us to love and serve others unconditionally.
“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. 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.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ” ~Matthew 25:35-40 (Read Matthew 25:31-46 for context)
Nowhere, when Jesus talks about serving the poor and loving others, does he put any conditions on it. He never says “As long as you know they’re not going to use the money for booze, go ahead and help.” There isn’t a you-must-listen-to-a-sermon-before-I-feed-you clause.
It is his command that we give, and leave the rest to him.
Jesus said that the poor would always be with us, and whatever we do to the least of these, we do to him. When we turn our faces away from the poor, we turn our face away from Jesus.
Each of us is called, in one way or another, to help those less fortunate than ourselves. That’s going to look a little different for each of us. I was challenged yesterday to ask myself what I am doing for the “least of these.” Thankfully, I can honestly say that we, as a family, are doing what we can. If God asks more of us, I’m sure we will find a way.
When I stand before him someday, I want to be a sheep. I want to be one of those who fed, clothed, visited, and loved Jesus by doing those things to all who come in contact with me.
The beauty of this is that all Jesus asks of us is to open our eyes around us, and “do to the least of these” within our arms’ reach first. If his call goes beyond that for my life, I will know it, beyond any doubt, and it will not be overly difficult to obey, because my heart will have been readied by my Father.
So, to sum up, I learned that my love and service to those around me needs to come from a glad heart, unconditionally, for “God loves a cheerful giver,” and because it is my delight to serve Jesus by serving flesh-and-blood people around me.
- What did you learn at church yesterday, if you went? If not, has God spoken to you this week? About what?