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I discovered this devotional on bible.com and, though I’m a staunch verbal advocate for the poor and oppressed, I was convicted by it.  I feel that my own actions don’t measure up to the bar set by my own words.

This devotional is the day 3 excerpt from 14 day devotional study.  It is based on Matthew 25:34-46 which follows:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  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, 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.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

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.’

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.  –Matthew 25:34-46

At eight-years-old, Hernando has never been to school because his mother simply can’t afford to send him. A product of a broken home, he lives in a dilapidated shack in a rural region of the Philippines where poverty and hunger are widespread.

Hunger and unsanitary living conditions have taken a toll on Hernando’s body. His frame is tiny and he suffers from a skin disease that is common among children in the Philippines who are living in extreme poverty.

But Hernando has recently found a glimmer of hope after being enrolled in Convoy of Hope’s children’s feeding program in his neighborhood. When he first came to the program, he was literally starving to death. Now, Hernando receives a meal everyday through Convoy of Hope and its supporters and sometimes is able to bring home food to his family.

“My dream is to someday have three meals a day,” Hernando says.

What you and I consider normal, this little boy dreams of.  He is one of millions. Jesus commented in Matthew 25 that when we serve people like Hernando, we are serving him. What we do or don’t do for others in need is a reflection of how we treat Christ.

In order to grow in the area of compassion, it is important to see why it is that God cares for the poor. He cares because Jesus relates to the poor. He takes it both seriously and personally how we treat the suffering around us. God insists that if we do not imitate his concern for the poor we are not really his people—no matter how frequent our worship or how orthodox our creeds.

Christ represents himself to us in a special way in the hungry, the naked, the sick and the prisoner. He is among us in the outcasts and the oppressed of our age. Their cry for justice is Christ’s cry for justice.

The next time you have an opportunity to serve someone, take a moment to see them as Christ does before you walk away. Be aware that Jesus is the Poor One among us.

It doesn’t matter if we are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or something else, if we neglect the poor and suffering, our religion (according to the Christian apostle James) is pretty much worthless.

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