My son Geoff recently participated in a “homeless simulation.” He spent three days and two nights living on the streets of his city, sleeping outside in below freezing temperatures. Without food, money, or shelter, he relied on the kindness of strangers for his basic needs. On one of those days his only food was a sandwich, bought by a man who heard him asking for stale bread at a fast-food restaurant.
Geoff told me later it was one of the hardest things he’d ever done, yet it profoundly impacted his outlook on others. He spent the day after his “simulation” seeking out homeless people who had been kind to him during his time on the street, doing what he could to assist them in simple ways. They were surprised to discover he wasn’t actually homeless and were grateful he cared enough to try to see life through their eyes.
My son’s experience calls to mind Jesus’s words: “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. . . . Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:36, 40). Whether we give a word of encouragement or a bag of groceries, God calls us to lovingly attend to the needs of others. Our kindness to others is kindness to Him.
What little kindness can you extend to another? When have you been the recipient of another’s kindness?
In today’s reading, Jesus invites those who are blessed by the Father to take their inheritance. Is the inheritance the blessing? The inheritance is a good thing, but perhaps the blessing is what enabled them to gain the inheritance. When Jesus explains why the inheritance is theirs, He lists their actions toward those in need. Instead of the blessing being the reward, the blessing could be what made this group compassionate to those in need as opposed to the lack of sympathy in the group that’s sent away (vv. 41–43). God’s blessing—salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit—makes us aware of the needs of others.