As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us not forget about “the least of these.” In fact, Jesus provides a list of the least of these, including: the sick, the hungry, the stranger, the thirsty, and the naked. We can easily identify many people falling into this group.
We could go to General Hospital and see people who are sick. We could travel down 8th Avenue South and witness hungry and thirsty people at the Nashville Rescue Mission. We could find women stripped of everything at the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter because they had to flee from their homes to escape violent situations.
We can find strangers all over Nashville, including people who do not look like we do and those who may not have any legal status to be in this country. These are the least of these that we can quickly identify, but I would suggest that all of us have been or could be the least of these. Being hungry, thirsty, sick, naked, or strange is not limited to physical space. In his final parable about the end times, Jesus tells a story about a king separating people into two sets: sheep, or the saved; and goats, or the unsaved. The sheep took care of the least of these, while the goats ignored their needs. Jesus shared this truth: “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me,” Matthew 25:40. We have to remember that being saved in a relationship with God inspires us to take care of the least of these. As we do so, we render unto the Lord.
In each of us is the presence and spirit of God. As we give to others, the least of these, we are blessing the Lord. The Lord is never in need. In fact, God provides. He provides for us so that we can be a blessing to someone else. During this time of giving and sharing, let us do so to the least of these. The list Jesus provides is a conclusive list. As we think about our personal needs and the needs of the world, we could find ourselves or someone else in one of these categories. When we see the “least of these,” someone in need of love and grace, let us share with them. We never know when we might be the least of these.
Jesus came into the world for the least of these. He lived for the least of these, and he died and was resurrected for the least of these. Let us go and do likewise for the least of these.