The Least of These – The YouTruth in Matthew 25:40

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

This verse is often quoted and, by itself, has a pretty straightforward message—we are to . But the larger passage from which this verse is taken (Matt 25: 31-46) speaks about Jesus’ Second Coming and the criteria that will be used to open up the entry door to His Eternal Kingdom. So, there’s a lot more going on than just a nice sentiment. It warrants a closer look.

You Did [it] for Me

Jesus said in the preceding verses, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink… (Matt 25:35)” This can be a little confusing because we know that Jesus is God and is, thus, never in need of anything. Yet we know that Jesus, while fully God, was also fully human. So, He experienced the burdens associated with being flesh and bone, including hunger, thirst and loneliness. Therefore, He relates to those who are

The Least of These

The phrase “the least of these” is one we should consider with great care. We must understand that “the least” is a standard applied by our broken world that counts “the least” as the losers while it proclaims others as winners. This is not God’s standard. Reaching down with a helping hand is much different than reaching out with a helping hand. “Reaching down” implies, intentional or not, that we are of a higher position and those we help are of a lower status. Don’t fall into this trap! In comparison to God, we all fall so dreadfully short of His glory that each of us is to be counted among the ranks of the “least of these” along with every single other human being. Since we are all helpless “leasts,” saved only by accepting His free gift of grace through faith in Jesus, we should be about spreading the message of that infinite gift to all of the “co-leasts” around us.

The Bottom Line—This is Eternal Business

We learn from Jesus’s teaching that caring for the helpless, the hungry, the lonely and the suffering is an eternal privilege exercised by those with eternity in their hearts. We know that we are bringing a piece of eternity into this broken world by doing so. We can hear these precious words ringing in our hearts: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matt 25:34)

Setting Sail with Thomas and Jesus

Weaving together quotes from a famous one and The Famous One

St. Thomas Aquinas said, “If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.”

Jesus said it like this in Matthew 28:19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

When you buy a new car, it is perfect. The outside finish has the new car sparkle and shine, the inside has the new car smell. There is one (and only one) way to preserve the car in this pristine condition. Park it in a climate-controlled garage, drape a protective tarp over it, and never drive it. Now if you’ve just purchased a cherry, all-original, ’57 Chevy Bel Air convertible you might do exactly this. But most often, cars are bought to be driven. This subjects them to the dings in the door, pebbles kicked up into the windshield, and the infamous double-dip cone becoming a single-dip cone in the back seat.

When a new ship is commissioned, it is perfect. It’s hull is perfectly smooth, the deck has an unblemished coat of non-slip epoxy, and the bridge has that new-bridge smell (whatever that smells like). If the captain’s highest aim was to preserve his ship he would keep it in port. He might take the additional precaution of keeping it in dry dock and not even putting it in the water. While maintaining his ship is important, it is never the highest aim of the captain to keep it pristine. The captain is to set sail to assigned ports of call, to deliver cargo or passengers to their destinations. Thus, the ship will soon loose its new-ship sheen, the shine will dull, the hull may be damaged, barnacles may jump on for the ride.

Followers of Jesus are captains. And Jesus commands us to shove off from the dock and set sail. Our cargo is the Good News. Our ship is our life’s testimony offered as a living sacrifice to Him. Along the way, we’ll strike the floating logs of indifference, we’ll be tossed on the swells of ridicule, or even run aground in persecution’s shallow waters. But when our battered vessel comes limping into port, Jesus will not chastise us for the damage, but will say something like this: “Well done, good and faithful captain.”

Washing Hands and Coming Near – The YouTruth in James 4:8

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinner(s), and purify your heart(s), you double-minded.” (parentheses added)

This verse starts out nice and sweet, reflecting the yearning of God to be near to you. But then, “Bam!” some not so nice stuff—accusations and a not-so-flattering assessment of your character.

This chapter in James is dealing with strife among the believers of Jesus. It was caused by fights and quarrels motivated by coveting what others have. All of this, James said, created, within the community of believers, enemies of God! James was painting a harsh picture. And then comes the verse above.

As a believer, you have to face the reality that you are, in your nature, a double-minded sinner. If it were not so, Jesus would not have had to come to earth and die on the cross for you. Now, Satan would have you believe that your sinful state is an irrevocable, hopeless situation. He loves to accuse and condemn (even though God has given Him no authority to do so). Flee from Satan’s message! Instead hear the loving message from God in this verse.

God wants you near. He longs to be in close fellowship with you all day, every day. The harsh stuff is in no way to intended to condemn or depress you. It is intended to provide His directions for drawing up close to Him. And as a bonus, He has given you the power to do the necessary work in His Holy Spirit. Think about this: do you think that His Spirit, which had the power to lift Jesus out of the grave alive, can wash your hands and purify your heart of those things that keep you distant from Him? I do!

So, do some prayerful self-reflection today. Ask the Holy Spirit for His hand-washing, heart-purifying help, and look forward to a wonderful day drawn near to God. (And repeat this often!)