Day 33 – Unto the Least of These
I am honored to share this picture of the future given by Jesus in the days before His death. These words had a profound impact on my life; a life changing, career-altering impact. I had just had my heart broken while teaching a class to Christian School students. One of the students, not quite as smart, not as nicely dressed, not quite as pretty in the eyes of her peers, and struggling, had been called a loser and a nerd by her classmates. I did what most teachers would do. I said, “Don’t speak like that in my classroom!” However, I left for my 2nd job that night thinking, “If a youngster who feels like a loser can’t find love in a Christian High School classroom, where in this tough world will they find love?” I searched the Scriptures for something that would change the hearts of the kids, and here it was.
Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV)
“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.”
I shared this with the young people 6 times that day, in every class! I told them that the way they are treating a fellow human being is the way they are treating God, Himself, and that one day they will stand before Him to be judged for their treatment of Him! Theologians may think I stretched it but I told them that I believe that when they said a hurting word to an already hurting person, they were hurting God Himself. I felt I really made an impact on the kids. I told my wife it was the best sermon I’d ever heard and I preached it! I told her it was so good I should have taken notes on myself!
Then that very Sunday, a man who was homeless approached me at the parking lot I was working at for 38 hours on the weekend. He knocked on the window of my booth and asked me for my sandwich. I TURNED HIM DOWN! I felt like a hammer hit me in the head, and prayed for another chance to practice what I preached. I found him on the streets 3 weeks later and bought him dinner. Then I was invited to work at the Door of Faith Mission in Des Moines, a chance to truly practice what I preached. My initial failure led me today to a place of feeding over 1 million precious meals each year, and changed my life. Don’t give up when you fail. You might be in just the place God wants you to be in order to make a difference in this tough world! Blessings!
Rev. Andy Bales
President/CEO of Union Rescue Mission