The Least of These
By Carlton Foster – October 17, 2020
You may know the story; it is taken from Matthew 25, starting at verse 31. Jesus was telling the story. He said, “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world, for I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25:31-40 NLT)”
We might have not realized that as we interact with others, our manner of interactions shows who we are. These interactions paint a picture of our true self. The other times we could be acting, but when it comes to the ‘lease of these’, the insignificant, the obnoxious, the poor, the forgotten, and anyone that is not important, we show the internal makeup of our true self. We act disrespectful, unkind, angry, or simple mean-spirited to them.
Jesus gave this parable, “A good tree can not produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can not produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes (Luke 6:43-44 NLT)”. These are facts as it is related to human characters. Our natural behaviors define who we are and bad behaviors do not come from good people; likewise, good behaviors do not come from bad people. Jesus continues and said, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart (Luke 6:45 NLT)”. The words that come out of our mouths are the definition of who we are and the stamp of our characters. Most time these words show the tip of the iceberg: there are much more where it comes from.
Jesus and the Angels are always watching and looking for our true character. The ones with the good characters are those he will take with him back to heaven. Those with the evil-mean characters will get left behind. Where do you fall? How do you behave with the ‘lease of these’ in your circle? How do you treat strangers, people of other races, of other religious affiliations, other political parties, or those who you don’t like?
How do you treat the animals in your surroundings, the environment, groups seeking benevolent help, and beggars on the road? How do you treat your parents, senior citizens, or step-families? Do you diligently go and comfort the sick or someone has to force you to go? Do you willingly go with the group to minister and feed the homeless, or you never find the time to do so? Jesus is looking to see if you are consistently treating these people and these things with respect, care, and love. Our actions show if we are doing so or not.
Doing good deeds to our friends and those who we like do not count. Jesus said, “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that (Matthew 5:46-47)”.
No one has to tell you where you stand as a sheep or a goat. You know how you behave and how you treat others. Only you can look deep within your heart and see if you are genuinely caring, loving, respectful, and helpful to others. On this earth, only you who know what are in your heart. Well Jesus and the Angels also know your heart, and they are telling you what will happen when they return the second time. Jesus is asking you to change your ways of dealing with others and be Christ-like to ‘the least of these’.
In summary, when Jesus comes again, he will turn to those who do not genuinely love others and say, “Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.” Jesus will conclude and say “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these: my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me and they will go away into eternal punishment (Matthew 25:41-46).”