Who Is Your "Least of These"?

Sometimes it’s easy to love the “least of these.” Other times, not so much. It’s easy to love little children until they whine, tantrum, or disobey. And the poor until they act ungrateful or entitled. Many of us are willing to care for the sick—until someone throws up on us. And we welcome the lonely until they get clingy and demanding.

Nevertheless, God calls us to serve those who appear to bring nothing to the table. Matthew 25:40 tells us, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine has done it unto me.”

In light of this command, we should ask ourselves, “Who is “the least of these” God is calling me to love and serve?

Maybe it’s a family member, co-worker, neighbor, or church member. Or it could be a young mom, college student, or struggling teen. Or a lonely friend, grieving widow, or elderly acquaintance.

“Least of these” can be one-time opportunities to do a kind deed, meet a need, or speak an encouraging word, or they can be longer-term commitments to get involved in someone’s life. Regardless, we should always be ministering to at least one of the least of these.

The litmus test is that our commitment is a sacrificial relationship that appears to be lopsided—we’re giving and they’re receiving.

I’d like to share five reasons to love and serve “the least of these.”

1. God blesses us when we share generously.

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). Whether it’s time, talent, or treasure, God always manages to bless us more than we bless others.

2. God will get the glory for our kind deeds.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Mat. 5:16).

3. When we were young believers, others patiently helped us grow.

Now we can pay it forward. “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves” Rom. 15:1).

4. Jesus promises eternal reward for those who selflessly serve others.

"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. 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,” (Mat. 25:34-35).

5. It makes God happy.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Heb. 13:16). Who doesn’t want to make God happy?

I’ve been a believer for more than 30 years. Sometimes I’ve been self-focused, and other times I’ve been other-focused. It hasn’t taken me long to discover that self-focus is self-limiting. Ministering to others, however, especially when it’s challenging and sacrificial, grows our faith, expands our hearts, and draws others closer to God.

Some of the needy people I’ve befriended purely out of obedience to God’s promptings have become my dearest friends. While the relationships may have started out lopsided, as they grew in spiritual maturity, they have loved me loyally and unselfishly.

Some of the sick people I’ve ministered to have taught me priceless lessons about contentment, courage, and faith. More than once I’ve visited someone intending to encourage them and realized instead that they had encouraged me.

Some of the spiritually immature people I’ve discipled have challenged me think through what I believe and be able to defend it. They’ve inspired me with their fledgling faith and reminded me of my responsibility to set a good example.

I always learn something about myself and the Lord when I minister to the least of these. Probably the greatest lesson I’ve learned is that, in God’s eyes, I, too, am the least of these. He loves me when I’m unlovely, comforts me when I am sick, and visits me when I am in a prison of my own making. In every way, he loves me the way he calls me to love others.

So I ask you again, who is “the least of these” whom God is calling you to love and serve? If you don’t have someone, pray and ask God to show you who around you most needs your love and care.

Last weekend I had the privilege of ministering with the amazing women of Good Shepherd UMC Parish in Brookville, PA. Here are a few scenes from our time together.

A beautiful morning ushered in a beautiful day.

A shy friend greeted us in the nearby apple orchard.

The first hat in "A Hat for All Seasons, Serving God in Every Stage of Life" is a safari hat. Can you guess why?

"Stepping Out, How Our Footwear Impacts our Faith"
God calls men AND women to wear this shoe as we walk the faith walk.

"Clean Out That Closet" challenged us to leave bitterness and unforgiveness at the foot of the cross.
The amazing planning committee that made everything flow smoothly.

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