37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
This is a very inspiring verse and so well known. It has been the impetus behind countless food pantries, charities, and benevolent activities. Undoubtedly, each of us would lend a helping hand to anyone who was presented with a dire physical need, but there are other situations in which a physical need is not apparent that also require us to dig deep and demonstrate mercy. In fact, God calls us to learn to employ mercy in our dealings with each other on a daily basis. Everyone has their sharp edges, blind spots and annoying quirks, and on some days, even a normally lovable person can be very difficult.
Oftentimes, we just do not think before we speak. Mistakes made in the past can seem to hang over us like a cloud and never go away, and thus we do not feel forgiven or cannot let go and forgive. How does this affect our attitudes toward others? Negatively of course, and that appears outwardly as a lack of compassion for others. Of course, we all have different backgrounds and different political beliefs. Each of these differences can ignite conflict with our closest family members, friends, and coworkers.
“The least of these” may be someone in our lives who appears to have it all but is still struggling to accept themselves and find acceptance from others. It may be someone who is obstinate in their opinions or beliefs. We cannot see into the other person’s heart; nor do we know their intentions and attitudes. What we do know is that mercy will soften the hard shell far more effectively than logical arguments, slews of facts, or unwanted advice.
Loving God, bless me with patience to truly listen and see your child in each person, reaching to me for mercy and acceptance through expression of your beautiful and abundant grace. Amen.