November 25, 2011

Nov. 25: Doing good unto the least of these

Karina_Rohrer-Meck

By Karina Rohrer-Meck, a junior nursing major from Archbold, Ohio
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:
What an inspiring verse to study with going into the first Sunday of Advent, the season of hope. Sometimes when I think about the day Jesus returns, fear overcomes all other feelings. At first, these verses can have the same impact, instilling the idea that some will see eternal punishment. However, I encourage you to look at these verses with only hope and a challenge.

Jesus states “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Personally, if I knew Jesus was hungry, I would provide him a feast; thirsty and I would provide him unending drink; a stranger, I would introduce him to all my friends; naked and I would take him shopping and let him buy anything he wanted; or sick, I would visit and provide all the medicines I could find. The challenge we have in front of us is to do the same thing for the least of these.

What a challenge! What an honor! Jesus asks us to do these acts of love, and will reward us with an eternal kingdom. Now comes the hard part. If we find ourselves too consumed with our own desires, we are unable to show these acts of love, at least to the least of these. For me, the least of these is commonly the people in my life I struggle to get along with, or my “enemies.” I encourage you to strive to show some act of love to an enemy during this season. Let these verses challenge you, but also let them bring you so much hope.

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV)
1O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! 2Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

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Comments (12)

  1. Thanks Karina for the challenge to show compassion even to those who are difficult for us to love!

    Lee Short

    Lee Short November 25, 2011 |
  2. Thanks Karina for sharing your thoughts. Inspiring! Sometimes I think that my enemies are so far away that what I thinks and do is unimportant. If I remove my dark glasses I will find them at my doorstep.

    Mary K. Mishler November 25, 2011 |
  3. Thanks Karina for sharing your thoughtss. Inspiring! Sometimes I”m tempted to think that my enemies are so far away that what I think and do is unimportant. You challenge me to remove my dark glasses and see who is standing on my doorstep.

    Mary K. Mishler November 25, 2011 |
  4. Nice devotional, Karina! What a great surprise to see your face and read your devotional this morning!

    sarah conrad yoder November 25, 2011 |
  5. From my blog at http://menemenetekeltoday.blogspot.com/2010/11/matthew-25-modernized.html

    Matthew 25, Modernized
    A while back, I shared these thoughts with my church.

    It is interesting that there are two sermons on mounts that bookend Jesus’ ministry.  The classic sermon on the mount really launches he teaching,  But just before the cross, there is a sermon on the Mount of Olives that seems to build higher and higher as he draws his listeners in.  In chapter 24, he starts getting his listeners ready to think of ends and being prepared for judgement.  Then in chapter 25, he starts on a series of parables that each dig deeper.  The parable of the Bridesmaids is pushing them to be ready.  The parable of the talents goes deeper, saying in effect that its not enough to just don’t do anything wrong.  Instead, success is found in also doing things (the work of the Father) right.  Sin avoidance isn’t enough.  But then in verse 31, he raises the bar by fleshing out a bit of what the Father wants.  This seems to be the culmination of his teaching ministry.  So a couple of years ago, I worked up a rough approximation of what I think he may say today (in addition to the topic in the original teaching).

    Here’s a possible update of Matthew 25:

    Verses 35 and 36
    I was lonely, and you befriended me,
    I was born into a cycle of poverty, violence, and despair and you invested your life in me and brought me out,
    I was born in a fragile land and you taught us how to care for it,
    I was abused and you stood with me,
    I was born under an oppressive government and you fought your governments support of it and stood with me,
    I was born in a violent land and you stood with me for peace,
    I needed work and you sent fair labor,
    I walked the mountains and you joined me to enjoy God’s beauty,
    I was sick and poor and you lobbied to provide insurance to save me,
    I moved into your neighborhood and you welcomed me,
    I was broken and you asked how you could help me today.

    And the king would respond to those sent away:
    I was lonely, and you only had time for your TV,
    I was born into a cycle of poverty, violence, and despair and you avoided me,
    I was born in a fragile land and your pollution destroyed my home and brought famine and drought,
    I was abused and you looked the other way,
    I was born under an oppressive government and yours supported it further your fortunes,
    I was born in a violent land and you brought war,
    I needed work and you supported sweatshop labor,
    I walked the mountains and you stripped to tops of them to fuel your lifestyle,
    I was sick and poor and you left me to die in an overcrowded emergency room,
    I moved into your neighborhood and you moved out,
    I was broken and you said that all will be better in heaven.

    “Whatever you did to the least of these…”

    Jason Lacoss-Arnold November 25, 2011 |
  6. Lovely way to transition from Thanksgiving to Advent. I, too, struggle with maintaining the proper perspective. It helps me to remember to phrases: “Jesus in a disturbing disguise,” and “One for whom Christ died.” Either one of those puts a quick end to my human tendency to judge and separate myself from those who need me to love them so that Jesus can love them.

    Thanks also for the comments, esp. Jason’s litany. Inspired!

    Jane T. November 25, 2011 |
  7. Your emphasis on “love of enemy” is well placed — it’s a most worthy “Jesus goal” to keep shooting for.

    John J. Smith November 25, 2011 |
  8. Katrina,
    You write very well. Today I was particularly impacted by how vital it is for me as a Christian to live these acts of love for Jesus. Today’s ideological climate is so polarized and divisive, that if we do the things Jesus states are necessary to the least of these, we can make our country and our world a much more holy place. Thank you

    ML Ewing November 25, 2011 |
  9. Including enemies in the ‘least of these’ is thought provoking and, I believe, helpful. Thank you.

    Jon Byler November 25, 2011 |
  10. This is living our faith out thanks for reminding us!!!!!!!!!!

    Bob November 25, 2011 |
  11. Karina,
    Thank you for your words. This rang well with me, in fact, I had recently been thinking about this topic…how I can show that I’m in a relationship with Jesus? This message says that we can do this by helping “the least of these”. What an exciting challenge.
    Thank You.

    Brook Hostetter November 25, 2011 |
  12. I was rereading some of the devotionals from this past Advent, and I happened to come across this one. Thank you for putting this Biblical passage into a different perspective for me! Previously, this has been one of the passages with which I’ve struggled the most. There have been times when it’s sent me into an agony over the times I have failed to help people who need help. I’ve often wondered, “What about that time I didn’t work at the shelter, or that time I passed by that vendor for The Contributor [my city's newspaper sold for the benefit of the homeless]? Does this mean that I’m a ‘goat’?” Your devotional has helped me leave behind those worries and just focus on reaching out to “the least of these.” Thank you!

    Elizabeth S.O. December 29, 2011 |