Daily Devotional

The Least of these Brothers of Mine

by Simon Whitton

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, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Matthew 25:37-40 (NIV)

How do we deal with someone in the church who offends us, in what they believe, what they say, or how they act? Perhaps they have even insulted us in some way. In our minds we may categorize them as some sort of problem Christian and the chances are we would shun them.

These are needy believers, whether they see themselves as needy or not. Jesus categorizes this sort of believer as: 'brothers of mine', 'little children', 'your brother', 'sheep', 'belonging to Christ'.  It may be that He has brought a believer like this across our path for a purpose.

How we treat others in the local and global church says a lot about our Christian maturity and, specifically, our own security in Christ. When we are secure in Christ, we do not feel threatened by 'problem Christians'.  Instead, they are part of the mission field, to be ministered to, or won over.

Whether it's their behavior that's questionable, or their theology, it is the needy in the church that most benefit from a glimpse of the heart of Christ. In his letter to the Romans while discussing differences in theology, Paul encouraged believers to act in love and to make every effort to live in peace; he also said:

'You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.'
Romans 14:10 (NIV)

There is a time to confront and to discipline in the church; but the great test for us is to respond with selfless love:

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)

For when we treat someone who does not deserve it with love, it's as though we are loving Christ Himself. It is an act of worship.

Think of a Christian who offends you in some way, and pray for them. Pray that God will give you a heart of love, from which you can demonstrate your concern for them. Pray that the Lord will give you opportunities to do things for Him by acts of kindness toward 'the least of these'.

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