A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I went out with some of our family. At the end of the night, as we were heading back to our car, a homeless man stepped out in front of me. He addressed me directly and said that he was hungry and cold and that no one cared, but that he hoped I did. Now, at the time, I had no cash in my pocket. If I had, it is very likely that I would of pulled it out and given it to him. Regardless of the risks. Regardless of what he might spend it on. Regardless of whether others would judge me for it or call me an enabler. I probably would have given it to him. But as it was, I had no cash on me, so there was nothing I could give him. I remember walking away with my conscience clean because, hey, there was nothing I could do, right?
Well the more I think about it, the more I wonder...
Look at this text:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the 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 foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV)
For the last two weeks, that encounter has sat with me. Don't get me wrong, I know that I didn't do anything sinful. I meant what I said. If I had been carrying cash, I likely would have given it to him. But what challenges me is the fact that I walked away without any questions. I didn't ask myself what I could do, since I had no money on me. And I wonder... what would have I done if instead of a stranger begging me for money, it had been Jesus?
Think about that. Imagine you are walking down the street and a man jumps out in front of you. his coat is ripped and muddy. His shirt beneath it in ribbons. You can see his filthy skin through rips in his clothes. His shoes look like they've been partially digested. Your sense of smell immediately informs you that he has been days without access to a shower or a regular toilet. He looks you in the eyes and says, "Please help me"... and you recognize him. You recognize Jesus. Alone, dirty, homeless, friendless, maybe even sick or dying. What would you do?
Would you let the fact that you had no cash in your pocket stop you from helping him? If you saw Jesus standing before you in dire need? I wouldn't! I would rush to the nearest ATM and take out every penny I had. I would buy Him food at the best restaurant, and clothes from the most extravagant stores. I would let Him use my shower, and would probably even wipe His hands and face clean with baby wipes as we waited for the waitress to bring us our food. I would wait on Him hand and foot. I would weep at the sight of Him and beg Him to tell me everything there was to know about Him. But there's no chance - none whatsoever - that I would have climbed into my car and driven away without a second thought.
In short... I would have loved Him.
Would His dirtiness stop you from embracing Him? Would His smell keep you from letting Him in your car? Would His condition make you wonder if giving Him cash was best for Him? Or what if it was worse than that! What if He approached you and you saw clearly decaying flesh falling from his face and hands? Would His leprosy keep you from embracing Him as tightly as you possibly could? Would knowing that touching Him meant certain death for you keep you from touching Him anyway? Would the blood leaking down His face stop you from kissing His brow? No! Even if it meant losing everything you had; even if it meant sickness and the loss of your very life, you would embrace Him, and kiss His brow, and offer Him every penny you had available to you! He's Jesus!
Love God and love people... Jesus told us that the entire law was summed up in these two commands. Love God and love people. And I thought that I had done a good job of satisfying these two great commands. I really did. But the more I reflect on that 500 feet from that man to the car, the more I wonder if I ever really understood what Jesus was saying. The more I realize that although I do love people, i'm not sure I've been willing to love them as I love myself. Because I assure you, if it had been me in need, I would have found a way.
Just something to think about. If what you do for the "least of them" is the measure of what you do for Jesus, do you think that Jesus feels loved by you?