"For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."
Jesus makes it clear to us in Matthew 25 verses 34-46 that when we do things unto the least of these, we do them unto him. When we see a starving man and feed him, when we see a thirsty boy and give him water, when we see a stranger and take her in, when we see someone in need of clothing and clothe them, when someone is sick or in prison and we visit them, we are doing these things to Jesus. We also see in Proverbs 19:17 that, "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again."
When we do unto the least of these, we are doing unto the Lord, and we are also lending unto the Lord.
So my question is, who are the least of these? Jesus gives us a good description: The hungry, thirsty, poor, strangers, naked, needy, sick, or imprisoned. Basically anyone in need. We see three things represented among this list: Physical needs, emotional needs, and that we do these things not only to those we know, but also to strangers, or those that we do not know.
Physical needs are given in that to live a person needs food and water, a place to sleep, and clothing.
The physical needs are pretty easy to see and deal with. You see somebody hungry or thirsty, you give them food and water, or you can donate to charities that will give these things to those in need. Clothing is also an easy one to deal with because there are hundreds of charities you can donate either money or clothing to that will get the clothes where they are needed the most. But what about taking in a stranger and giving them a place to sleep? Is that safe?
Sometimes it can be, sometimes it might not be, but there are different ways to deal with this as well. Perhaps you have children in the home and you don't feel safe bringing in a guy off the street. But what about foster children the same age or younger than your children? What about adoption? Both of these options are taking in strangers who need a home, and giving them the things they need. There are also homeless shelters that you can both donate to as well as volunteer at. And if you see a homeless person in need, you can offer them a ride to the homeless shelter, or give them bus fare to get there.
This leads us to the emotional needs, which is what I really wanted to focus on. Emotional needs are just as essential to life as physical needs. True, you won't physically die without any friends or a support network, but you won't really be living either.
So, are the least of these in emotional need restricted only to those in prison or who are sick? I really don't think so. I believe what Jesus was trying to get across in Matthew 25 was that we should be reaching out to all people in need, both those we know and those we don't, those who are in physical need and in emotional need. You may have a family member who has been outed for one reason or another, you may have a neighbor who is alone, or past friends you've stopped talking to because you've had a falling out. Regardless, if they are in need, and you don't help them, then you don't help or lend unto the Lord, and that's a big deal to God. He even goes so far as to say that when you don't do unto the least of these you will suffer punishment.
I believe that in some point in our lives we have all been amongst the least of these, and have all experienced either being helped, or being denied the things we need. It is often easy for emotional needs to go unmet. How many of you have had a falling out with a friend whom you've never spoke with again? It might have hurt them as much as it did you. Or how often have you seen a co-worker or student at school looking lonely and left out, and you haven't done a thing to help? We all know how it feels, and we should all be working as God's hands and feet to remedy these situations, stepping up and doing what needs to be done for others.
I really felt compelled to write about this today because I see the least of these all around us. Sometimes I see a homeless man on the street and I pray, "God, send someone to help him." And then in my head I hear, "But I already sent you."
Regardless of our money situation, we can all help in some way, by donating things we already have, donating our time, or lending our Love. God gives so much of His love to us... why can't we give some of it back to his other children?
This is one of those call to arms posts. Let's move as one body of Christ, and put some feet to prayers, even if they aren't our own. Just think, if every American Christian donated one can of food to a foodbank a month, that would be 173,402,000 cans of food delivered to hungry people every month.
If every American Christian donated just one dollar to a homeless shelter a month, that would be $173,402,000 a month to homeless shelters who could buy clothing, food, and Bibles for people in need each month.
If every American Christian stepped out of their comfort zone and tried to reach out to a friend, family member, or stranger in emotional need, that would be 173,402,000 prayers for a friend answered each and every month. Are you starting to see the power of God yet? 1Corinthians 12:27 "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." If we are the body, the hands and feet, and we reach out as one body, great works can be done in the name of our wonderful Lord. That man on the street praying for a hot meal? God is sending us to answer that prayer. Put feet to it for that man, woman, or child, and lend unto the Lord.