UNTO THE LEAST OF THESE

Andy Hollifield 3-29-18
Matthew 25:40 And the king shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
I used this scripture recently in a post but I wanted to use it again because it is very expressive of how I feel today following the events of my son’s birthday. I am not going to write too much about him specifically but rather about the deeds of some wonderful folks with a big heart and the unseen things that they have done to make Tyler’s life a little sweeter.
You know, I have always believed and say this in H.O.P.E. Ministries, that if you are kind to someone’s kid, you gain instant credibility with the parent or parents. That is the basis of our ministry is that we try to care for the hurting and get the gospel to them in print, display it in the projects we do by what we give them, and show the love of God in all that we do without judging and condemning. I call it “getting your hands dirty.” Religion has gotten to be such a prosperous business, that we have seemingly got too good to care for those in the darkest times of their lives. We somehow have come to believe that those in dire circumstances are somehow beneath us and not worthy of our time and energy. We have also gotten to proud and exalted to be seen with them. Now don’t get me wrong, as a rule, I believe you would have a hard time winning a lost man to the Lord when you are sitting right beside him on a barstool. I know there are circumstances that may be the exception but I am generally speaking. If for no other reason, Paul told Timothy to “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
Having been the parent of a child with special needs for 21 years now, he has grown up around kids that were severely mentally handicapped and or physically handicapped so he don’t really think anything of it and we have learned not to either. Being put in that situation in your own life, will make you compassionate to both children and parents in those situations. I have found myself over the years looking at other parents and being grateful for my situation not being any more severe than what it was. Not meaning to put anyone down, but when you live with challenges; you learn to recognize other parents challenges even though a word may not be said. Most of these parents that we have met over the years, seldom complain and go about their duties with a smile and give all the love humanly possible to their children. You can see the sheer exhaustion in their faces but you can also see the boundless love in their eyes. I am sure that they may sit on the porch or out in a workshop or somewhere, with a cup of coffee or glass of tea and cry like a baby and beg God and ask why them. I am also sure they tell God that they just can’t handle it anymore. Some may just walk around the yard or have a good cry while mowing the grass but when their “pity party” (and I don’t mean that disrespectfully to anyone) is over, they get right back to work just like they do everytime. I am speaking these things from experience and “throwing myself a party” is what I call it in my case. It’s kind of like a pop-off valve on a water heater. Sometimes the pressure gets so high it has to release a little steam or water through the valve and then it goes back to functioning normally until the next time when the process repeats itself. That is sometimes what it is like. I know this may not seem real encouraging yet but I am speaking directly about a lot of people’s daily reality.
I have given a lot of thought to this over the years and now with Tyler at 21, I can still say it is worth it. Most of the time instead of anger you react with pity and compassion because you know they can’t really help how they might be acting. By the way, I am not talking about anger really toward them, but rather because of them. It is just like a marriage; no matter how much you love someone, they can still get under your skin from time to time.
In scripture there are several examples of this. In Acts 3, we have the beautiful story of the lame man at the temple gate. Acts 3:2 says, “And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate…” What we often miss is that this man was “carried, whom they laid daily…” Someone had this duty day in and day out and no doubt they often wished they could quit and after taking him to the gate, they went home and mowed the yard and griped and cried to God about how they just couldn’t take it anymore. Of course the bible don’t say that but I am using that as an example. You just take your moments when you can get them and then get right back to work. Have you ever thought about the pool of Bethesda where the angel came to stir the waters? Think about all of those folks that had to rise up early to get their loved one in their wheelchair or get their leg braces on them or just had to slowly lead them and be their eyes to get them to that pool. What about Lazarus at the rich man’s gate? Someone had to bring him there.
The reason I mention these caretakers is because I know just a little about their workload and can only imagine how exhausting it must be. I then think about the scripture in Matthew that we started with; “…As ye have done it unto the one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me….” While there will be rewards for those people that do it day in and day out, there will also be rewards in heaven for those that just do it when the need arises. This week I have experienced over two hundred of those spur of the moment acts of compassion. That is how many of you reacted to my request for mail for Tyler. He received about 15 emails, 84 of you reacted to the post while around 115 more or less left comments. If you could have seen the excitement on his face, you would have been grateful that you had a part in his happiness. For those of you that are born again Christians, God will bless and honor your efforts and for those of you that aren’t born again, while there will never be any rewards for it from the Lord, you have my undying gratitude. The compassion that you all have shown my son for his birthday is phenominal! You have touched the heart of his dad and mom. Sometimes, it is easy to get wrapped up in your struggles and you get callous to the needs of others and synical to the compassion of others. Your small efforts have helped melt a sometimes hard heart and reminded me once again that there are a lot of good people left in the world and I am bless to be acquainted with a slew of them. “Thank you” just doesn’t seem like enough but you have the appreciation of a thankful and truly humbled and honored father. You did make a huge difference to “one of the least of these.” May God richly bless you all for your efforts. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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