When I was a small boy, my family took a summer vacation to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Although the beach and commercial district was nothing near its present size, it was still a busy area—especially for a lost kid. Somehow I got separated from my family and before I knew it, I was walking alone on quiet side streets unable to get back to all the beach and water I knew were so near.
The details are vague now, but I remember the gist of what happened next. A young man who was jogging noticed my predicament and stopped to talk with me. Then, he took me to his flat, which was a block or two away. I recall that he gave me a soda and may have prepared a sandwich for me. After making a call to a friend and about twenty minutes or so, we headed back to the beach to look for my family.
What I remember most was the man’s kindness. That guy, whom I will never know, is the person I desire to emulate to others for Christ.
Do It to the Least of These
In Matthew 25, Jesus explains the final judgment when he will separate the godly and the ungodly and will say to the righteous: “‘Come, you blessed of 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 took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me’” (vs. 34-36).
The noticeable thing about these verses is Jesus’s use of himself in the role of those in need, something he has to explain to the ungodly. “When did we see you in need?” is their reply—because, of course, anyone will aid people they love or for whom they seek to maintain an image. Obviously, Jesus is not the one in need; instead, the allusion is to his cause.
Just as everything about me and my rescuer was different, we will encounter people who are different from us with an array of needs in their lives. And the door for Christ will swing wide open, to offer them a remedy to their need and to offer us a chance to demonstrate God’s love. How will you approach them? Yes, you may help them, but how do you make them feel? Are you warm and accepting, or cold and reluctant? Do your words and heart align? Do you shut off the grace of God to them because something about them offends you?
Differences don’t matter; hearts and needs do. I’m also learning to show the love that requires nothing in return. We don’t have to evangelize every time we help someone. Instead, we just need to love people…love their souls the way Jesus does.
Lord, give us loving hearts for all people with every need.