34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. 35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
Jesus gave a word picture of the final judgment, using his familiar method of telling a short “parable” story. His judgment story highlighted his Kingdom’s priorities. Kingdom citizens, he said, care for the hungry and thirsty, the poorly-clothed and strangers, the prisoners and the sick—the people Jesus called “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine.” Jesus knew that it’s often relatively easy to serve people doing well. He said we meet him particularly in those who are poor, sick, hungry—even in prison.
Loving Lord Jesus, I get so excited and joyful when I’m able to “give myself a gift.” Help me expand my heart to be more excited and joyful when I can direct that gift (of whatever kind) to other members of your human family. Amen.
Recently different people have said the same phrase to me. It’s a small phrase, and could easily be glossed over. But when I hear something more than once I try to notice it and wonder what God wants me to hear. That phrase is “Thank you for asking.”
A couple of weeks ago I received a text from a classmate of mine that his eighteen-year-old was in a car accident and was in the ER. He was fine and went home later that day. A few days later, we were texting about another assignment, and I asked “Hey, how’s Mike doing?” “He’s doing a lot better...thanks for asking.”
On Sunday I was talking with a friend after church. I began to walk away and remembered that his son lives in California. I turned around and asked, “Hey, how’s your son doing? Is he out of the path of the wildfires out there?” “Oh, he’s great...he actually moved out of state so he’s fine. Thanks for asking.”
Another day last week a member of my small group texted several of us and said that he was on vacation but his whole department had just been laid off. He expected to get the same on Monday. Monday rolled around and I called him to ask how his day went. “Oh, it was a tough day. I got laid off, but I am optimistic about some of my options I have. Thanks for asking.”
I share these stories as examples to show that it’s simple to just ask a question to let someone know you care for and are praying for them. I think this a part of what Jesus was talking about in today's passage. “I was hungry, and you noticed me. I was thirsty, and you noticed me. I was a stranger, and you noticed me. I was hurting for my child, and you noticed me. I lost my job, and you noticed me.”
In today’s world it’s so easy to get caught up in our own busyness (or our phones) and not notice the people around us. But when we look up every now and then, it’s amazing what just noticing someone with a simple act or question will mean to that person.
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