Matthew 25:40 (New International Version)
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.'
Does Jesus, then, have a "least of these?" I don't think so, and we shouldn't, but we do, and that is what I think he meant.
I think that he wants us to open our eyes and see, that unless we see him in every soul, and especially those we are tempted to see and treat as "the least," we really have no part with him, for he also says, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' (vs.45)
It is so easy be detached about the message of Jesus; to admire it and talk about how society should change, but he has a way of bringing the message home, and making it very personal. He asks me to change.
He did it again this morning--showed me the gap between my talk and my walk. And I am grateful. I want to see, but am often blind. Yet I find that when I slow down to listen, he has so much to say. He is the Teacher after all.
His teaching is gentle and full of encouragement. In the situation he nudged me about this morning, it was as if he said,"I know you thought you were doing a good thing; you even felt proud of yourself, but look closer. You have made a good start, but now I ask more of you."
There was a quote from Annie Sullivan, in the sidebar yesterday that said:
"People seldom see the halting and painful steps at which the most insignificant success is achieved."
I loved that. It made me think of something I learned years ago about helping people to learn a task or change behaviour. It is a principle that is called, "Successive approximations." It means building a skill one tiny step at a time, and cheering the person on for the "approximations" that gradually grow closer to the goal.
That is exactly what God does. He doesn't expect perfection of us all at once, but he gradually builds his character and qualities into us, and teaches us gently, step by step, to mirror him more truly. Or so I have found.
He showed me an example--my faint "approximation" of his lifestyle of love. If he was in a room with 12 people (as he often was,) and one of them honestly had trouble seeing or understanding something, he would stop everything for that one. I am certain that I would focus on the 11 and hope that the one will catch up or catch "something," at least.
Terry Harris is a motivational speaker with an inspiring story of overcoming some huge handicaps. One thing that he appreciated growing up, was people who were willing to slow down to the speed of the slowest person. What a challenge to those of us who race through life at a gallop. On the other hand, I think that God may be laughing at me right now and thinking, "Doesn't she see? Sometimes she is the slow one!"
I am commissioned: to slow down enough to see those around me to whom I can express gentleness, patience and kindness.
Because he would.