It had been a difficult few days. A loved one was drowning in pain and I didn’t know how to help. So I put on my tennis shoes and headed outside. Walking helps me focus my thoughts, and it’s my favorite time to listen to Scripture.
I picked up where I’d left off that morning in Matthew 25, where Jesus talks about the final judgment. He describes how he’ll separate the righteous (whom he calls sheep) from the others (whom he calls goats). He’ll praise the sheep for how they served him by serving others. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me,” he says (25:40).
How to Help
This story is something I’ve heard and considered many times. But as I was walking up a particularly steep hill just outside my neighborhood, I noticed a pattern I hadn’t seen before in the specific behaviors Jesus identifies in verses 35–36:
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.
Here, Jesus identifies six scenarios in which we’re faced with a problem. In all but two of those, he implies that loving others involves fixing the problem:
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Welcome the stranger
- Clothe the naked
Those are all very practical, tangible, and important ways we can serve others. They generally require little from us, and we tend to feel good when we help in these ways. But, what about the last two scenarios? I stopped partway up the hill to rewind my audio and listen again.
[Keep reading at The Gospel Coalition.]