Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 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.’
Jesus tells this parable about the impact of service. The confused people in our verse above, wonder, how did I serve you God? I served this guy and that woman, but you? And we hear the punch line, when you served the least of these you serve God.
That sounds nice, serve the least. I want to be careful not to diminish the impact of every dollar given, and every can of soup donated, but at the end of the day I wrestled with this. Do I really serve the least? The challenge is that often when asked about the least people we are quick to point to the least “over there.” They tell you they serve the least in the “big city” or “over there” (another country, most popular in this context Africa).
In this parable the least served are people that people come in regular contact with, the ones you see and interact with during normal life. The least don’t just live “over there,” but are all around you. The least might be your neighbor dealing with job loss, or depression. It might be a co-worker struggling with finding meaning and purpose for their life, or a friend who is struggling with a difficult child. Jesus call to serve the least isn’t necessarily a call to go over there, or send money over there. The least of these might be right next door, or in the next cubicle.
- How might God be leading you to serve “the least of these” where you are at today?