“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.” – Psalm 41:1-2
I saw Jesus.
I met Jesus the other day. I was on my way home from work and had just taken my exit off the interstate. While sitting at the stoplight, I saw a man holding a sign that said, “Hungry, please help.” He looked to be in his 60’s or 70’s and was limping as if his right leg was damaged. His deep gray eyes, disheveled silver hair and leathery tan skin told me that he had been on the streets for a while and his story was long and hadn’t been easy.
I knew that I didn’t have anything in my car to feed him, but I did have a $5.00 bill. I rolled my window down, signaled for him and held my hand – and the money – out of the window. He came to me as quickly as his crippled leg would let him. Reaching for the money, he thanked me about 6 times, said “God bless you” and walked away.
As he was heading back to his spot, he looked up to the sky, threw his hands in the air, and thanked God for providing for his needs.
Many people would read this and think that his thanking God was just for show; that his saying “God bless you” was just to fool us into another handout.
But who are we to judge his sincerity?
This man gave a very public display of affection toward God — on a crowded street in rush hour, his hands held high, face turned to the sky. I can’t help but think that if his leg wasn’t injured, he would have dropped to his knees. Yet, we question, was honestly giving thanks to God?
What would Jesus do? In Matthew 25:40, he said.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” This hungry man is one of the least of these. “…For 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…”
We teach our kids to be kind to others. We teach them manners. We teach them to respect their elders and we teach them to share. We want them to do well in school and succeed. We want them to grow up to be good people.
But how many times do we encounter those who could be considered ‘the least of these’ and hesitate to do anything for them or lock our car doors or turn our heads? They are strangers, they are addicts, they are dirty… there are lots of reasons why we do what we do. And why we don’t.
But Jesus was one of them. He was a friend to sinners and spent his time among the needy. He traveled city to city, without a permanent home. So, he was, in a sense, homeless. He did not just talk to those he felt safe with. He walked in confidence next to each and every person because he knew that each and every person needs love, despite his or her circumstances. He showed the world how to spread love without conditions – even to the least of these.
What would Jesus do?
We are the first-person example for our children – and even for the person in the car next to us. It is up to us to set an example of how unconditional love works. It is not just for the easy to love or the safe, it is for everyone.
Look for the least of these, spread love and be the example!