“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:40, NKJV)
Christmas offers abundant occasions for compassion. Festive baskets for needy families. Salvation Army bell ringers. Toys for Tots. Citywide feasts for the hungry. We try to avoid the season’s commercialism by demonstrating the love embodied in the Baby Jesus. And well we should. But God delights more in those who push beyond token acts at Christmastime to year-round obedience.
“I opened my Bible and read ‘If you did it to the least of these…’ and felt like I had been kicked in the stomach.” With those words, my friend explains her decision to adopt three little girls who had been abused by their parents.
College students rise at 5:00 every Thursday to serve breakfast to the homeless. Friends skip a party and drive 80 miles to lead worship at a prison. A couple gives their grandchildren fewer gifts to divert funds to children of AIDS patients. A retired educator tutors in an embattled school for children in poverty. A lawyer leads the Boy Scout troop in that same school. A man spends time every week teaching and listening to mentally ill residents of a subsidized housing unit.
Showing compassion can be time-consuming, expensive, uncomfortable, and inconvenient. Yet Jesus’ words in the parable of the sheep and goats reveal the heart of God. “As you did it to one of the least of these…” His desire is that we reflect His compassion to the world. We have the opportunity and the obligation to serve in His name.
Our works will not save us, but our works demonstrate that we are redeemed. If the Holy Spirit directs our time, our actions, and our gifts, we will please the Savior by serving the least of His children.
Christmas offers abundant occasions for compassion. So do the other 364 days.