By David Faust
Candy visited the farm and I showed her the barn where the hogs lived. She held her nose and complained, “Ooo, what’s that smell?” (My dad, a lifelong farmer, chuckled and said, “Smells like money to me!”) I visited Candy’s family in the city, and when we trekked down into a dingy subway station I held my nose and said, “Ooo, what’s that smell?”
Life has taught me an important lesson: Wherever you live, something stinks.
I also have learned another lesson: Wherever you go, you can find beautiful things if you look for them. My wife learned to appreciate the sweet fragrance of hay curing in the fields and my mom’s homemade blackberry cobbler cooling on the kitchen counter. I learned to enjoy the aroma of a warm New York bagel or a slice of pizza pulled from the oven in a tiny Italian restaurant in Manhattan.
Serving the Royal Family
When we view life through the eyes of Jesus, we see things differently. We find opportunities in the midst of ugliness, beauty in the midst of pain. We don’t turn up our noses when we encounter people in need.
Jesus depicts the divine King gathering the nations before him and separating the sheep from the goats. Those on his right (the sheep) are commended because, as the King puts it, “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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:35, 36).
Strangely, those who receive the King’s commendation don’t recall showing kindness to him. They ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The answer? “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (vv. 37-40).
Where do we encounter the royal family? Not just in Buckingham Palace, but also in jails, hospitals, and soup kitchens. The hungry, thirsty, naked, and homeless are the King’s brothers and sisters. Serving them is serving Jesus. Neglecting their needs would be like neglecting Jesus himself (vv. 41-45).
The Most of These, or the Least of These?
What qualifies someone to be called “one of the least of these”? They aren’t the least in value, for every human being has intrinsic worth. Nor are they the least in quantity, for large numbers of the sick and afflicted are found all over the world. Jesus calls them “the least of these” because they have less power and influence, fewer resources, less opportunity. They are more vulnerable, more mistreated—more in need of compassion from “the most of these” who have the means to help.
Anywhere we go, even the ugly places, we can find something beautiful. We can find someone to serve in Jesus’ name.
1. What does it mean to see the world through the eyes of Jesus?
2. What opportunities do you have to serve those in need?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for March 17, 2013
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Numbers 21, 22
Numbers 26, 27
Numbers 31, 32