“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 25:35-40)
God will separate his obedient followers from pretenders and unbelievers. The real evidence of our belief is the way we act. To treat all persons we encounter as if they are Jesus is no easy task. What we do for others demonstrates what we really think about Jesus’ words to us—feed the hungry, give the homeless a place to stay, look after the sick.
There has been much discussion about the identity of the “brothers and sisters” (Matthew 25:40). Some have said they are the Jews; others say they are all Christians; still others say they are suffering people everywhere. Such a debate is similar to the law expert’s question to Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). The point of this parable is not who, but what—the importance of serving where service is needed.
This parable describes acts of mercy we can do each day. These acts do not depend on wealth or special ability; they are simple acts freely given and freely received. We have no excuse to neglect those who have deep needs, and we cannot hand over this responsibility to the church or government. Jesus requires our personal involvement in caring for others’ needs (Isaiah 58:7). Love for others glorifies God by reflecting our love for him.
What are the needs you’ve noticed in the people around you? How can you meet those needs? One way you can help meet someone’s need is to pray for him or her on a regular basis. As you pray, God may bring to mind a tangible way you can meet that person’s needs.