35 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, 36 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.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
From: Our Daily Journey
A close friend lost his father unexpectedly. Though my husband and I both had responsibilities on the day of the funeral, we asked others to cover for us so we could drive more than 350 miles to be with our friend and his wife. Overwhelmed that we would travel such a distance in one day to be with them, our friends held us close when they saw us. Others had brought food, still others had taken care of details back home, but in this moment we found that our simple presence carried comfort.
Scripture tells a similar story where the presence of a young woman brought comfort, and eventually joy, into the life of a widowed and bereaved mother. Losing first her husband to death and then her sons ten years later (Ruth 1:3-5), Naomi saw little promise in her future—even to the point of declaring her life to be “bitter” (Ruth 1:20). Her life demonstrates how peace remains scarcest and comfort most out of reach in situations that seem inexplicably painful. How can we bring relief to someone who declares, “the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me”? (Ruth 1:21).
Ruth, however, was not deterred, and her quiet example challenges us to move beyond empty platitudes to be a presence of comfort (Ruth 1:18). Though Naomi had nothing to give her (Ruth 1:11-13), Ruth pursued her with tenacious love (Ruth 1:17). Ruth couldn’t reverse the circumstances of Naomi’s losses, but her faithfulness birthed hope in an aching heart (Ruth 2:20).
Like Ruth, may God enable us to bring peace to troubled hearts because we refuse to let go (Ruth 1:16). When we step into someone else’s story to share that person’s pain, we can in a small way point to Christ’s faithful presence, His real and steadfast comfort (2 Corinthians 1:4).
If the Son of God has been born into my human flesh, then am I allowing His holy innocence, simplicity, and oneness with the Father the opportunity to exhibit itself in me? What was true of the Virgin Mary in the history of the Son of God’s birth on earth is true of every saint. God’s Son is born into me through the direct act of God; then I as His child must exercise the right of a child— the right of always being face to face with my Father through prayer. Do I find myself continually saying in amazement to the commonsense part of my life, “Why did you want me to turn here or to go over there? ‘Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ ” (Luke 2:49). Whatever our circumstances may be, that holy, innocent, and eternal Child must be in contact with His Father.
Am I simple enough to identify myself with my Lord in this way? Is He having His wonderful way with me? Is God’s will being fulfilled in that His Son has been formed in me (see Galatians 4:19), or have I carefully pushed Him to one side? Oh, the noisy outcry of today! Why does everyone seem to be crying out so loudly? People today are crying out for the Son of God to be put to death. There is no room here for God’s Son right now— no room for quiet, holy fellowship and oneness with the Father.
Is the Son of God praying in me, bringing honor to the Father, or am I dictating my demands to Him? Is He ministering in me as He did in the time of His manhood here on earth? Is God’s Son in me going through His passion, suffering so that His own purposes might be fulfilled? The more a person knows of the inner life of God’s most mature saints, the more he sees what God’s purpose really is: to “…fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” (Colossians 1:24). And when we think of what it takes to “fill up,” there is always something yet to be done.
Two Little Words
By: Kathy Schultz
Most of us know that saying “I love you” (three little words) can make a difference in someone’s life, including even yours. Recently, while visiting a prospective college with my granddaughter, I saw the power of two words – not three – in action. It was a scheduled college visit with all sorts of activities planned for the students and their families.
My granddaughter had been contacted by a staff member with information along with acknowledgment of her application. It was not the normal form letter one expects, but instead was a hand-written note. (I was impressed as many acknowledgments come per the Internet and I often feel the art of letter writing is being lost.) The note not only acknowledged the application, gave the information needed, but also included a personal note to my granddaughter. The lady wrote that she had enjoyed reading the required essay. My granddaughter was thrilled, as she had worked hard to write an essay concerning a subject that was personal to her. Her family loved the essay, but it meant a lot more that someone she did not know liked it. After all, we are biased.
The morning began with a reception at the university president’s home. We all shook hands with the president and moved onto the next lady in line. As my granddaughter reached out to shake this young woman’s hand, she read the name tag and began speaking excitingly saying how glad she was to meet her. Then two little words were spoken in absolute sincerity, as my granddaughter said, “Thank you.” It was obvious it meant a great deal to the young lady as she smiled. Immediately, the president turned around and spoke to my granddaughter, telling her how impressed she was that she heard a thank you. She commented that she had not seen that happen very often and it was nice to hear.
The university president noticed my granddaughter not for her impressive writing, nor her academic abilities; but for two words that can be given by anyone, anytime for anything nice someone does for you. It was truly one of those moments in time when you realize God was giving you a much-needed lesson. God gives us our mouth but what words are on our tongues? Often we are good at pointing out mistakes, but do we say thank you and mean it? These two little words can be spoken to anyone, even strangers. After all, as Christians, we are called to be kind.
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 (NASB)
I suggest we look around and watch for those who bless us. Blessings come from God and we should thank Him, but often He uses others to bless us. Can we all begin to say these two little words with sincerity? We hear them spoken in rote, as one was saying good weather while it is raining cats and dogs, not really seeing the blessing. Even if we recognize the blessing, we fail to say the words “thank you.” These two little words may bless even you. Those standing close to my granddaughter that day were blessed as she spoke them. Would God want you to use these two words to bless and encourage others?
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NASB)
Now, I say to all of you reading these words a very sincere, “Thank you!”