the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
Matthew 25:40 (NIV)
Her name was Mrs. Wallace. Just saying the name – Mrs. Wallace – and immediately I picture that little lady with extremely short naturally curly and seldom washed hair. A tiny lady with jack-in-the-box teeth that needed no prompting to pop in and out of her mouth at a moment’s notice.
I can almost smell the talcum powder that did little to mask the scent of one who seldom bathes that we kids always knew would be there – and almost always was – when our mother picked her up on Saturday mornings to take her to town with us.
I admit that we complained every time Mother told us we would be picking up Mrs. Wallace. “Why does she have to go with us?” “She smells funny.” “Her socks are always down around her ankles.” “Doesn’t she have someone in her family who can take her to town?” “What if our friends see us with her?”
My mother would always respond to our questions with the same answers. “She is going with us because she has no one close by to take her. How will she get groceries? This is a good opportunity for you to get to know Mrs. Wallace. She is a very sweet lady. How can I tell her that my children don’t want her to go with them? Imagine how hurt she would be!”
And so for one more trip to town, we would sit in the back seat and watch her and wonder . . . why she didn’t bathe more often, why her socks continued to rest around her ankles, what kept her teeth from separating completely from her mouth and falling on the floor of the car.
But something happened during one of those car rides: we began to realize what our mother was doing. She was putting God’s love into action. She was taking care of Mrs. Wallace the widow lady as if she was HER mother! We saw that our mother was living what she believed. The teaching that Jesus was sharing in Matthew 25:34-40 was not something she took lightly.
In that Scripture Jesus was speaking to the righteous and blessing them for giving Him food and drink, for clothing Him, for taking care of Him when He was sick and for visiting Him in prison.
When they question Him as to exactly when they did those acts specifically for Jesus, He replies in verse 40: “…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (NIV)
My mother was showing us that when “the least of these” needed help, we should be willing to step in and show our Father’s love without complaining and without asking anything in return. Her unselfishness in being willing to put Christ’s love into action was a lesson we never forgot.
What are we doing to show our children how to be Jesus to those around us? Could it be that there is a Mrs. Wallace in our neighborhoods or where we work?
The best way for our children to learn Christ’s unselfish love for others is to see it reflected in our acts of kindness toward “the least of these” around us.
Father, please help me to never cease to look around me for those who need your loving touch in the very simple everyday things. Help me to always remember that people will learn about you by watching me. May I be a mirror of your love and compassion. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
R.A.P. it up
Is there a Mrs. Wallace in your family or neighborhood?
Do you need a “vision check” so that you see them through the eyes of Jesus?
What lessons are you conveying to your children when it comes to taking care of widows and others in need?
Find out the birthdays of the older neighbors in your community or at church who may not have any family living close by. Help your children to design coupons for (a) “a meal brought to your home;” (b) “a shopping trip;” (c) “a tea party time” (and you provide the tea and cookies). Pass out the coupons to each person and check back every couple of days to see if a date has been decided on to use the coupon.
Pray with your children concerning the salvation of each person who accepted a coupon. Have them write a note of encouragement to each person.
Matthew 25:40 (NIV) “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
Philippians 2:4 (NIV) “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
I John 3:17 (NIV) “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”
James 2:15-16 (NIV) “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”
(For more of Nancy Hughes' writing and information about her books, check out her blog, Encouragement from the War Room.)