Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing devotions based on the United Methodist membership vows, where we pledge to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. This week’s focus is SERVICE, with a particular emphasis on families. We invite you to share these as a family and to read them together with children.
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ 45 Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’
Humanistically, it is hard to see people who are broken or hurting. Sometimes, we can’t help but look away! Kids, on the other hand, usually don’t know how to do that. Sometimes kids will go right up and talk to someone, or offer help. Respectfully we may find ourselves saying to them, “Don’t stare!” or “Don’t get involved.” However, as adults, with our adult-like thinking, perhaps we also judge that those who are hurting don’t really deserve support, while kids often see things differently. In our adult-thinking, how often do we justify blaming others for their situations? If someone asks, “What would Jesus do?” adults may give answers that makes excuses. Yet Jesus said, “…When you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’’
So young people often hear Jesus’ call to serve as just instructions without conditions. I think young kids are especially able to serve like Jesus, especially since the Holy Spirit helps their intentions. Talking to kids when they are young is a good way for us to help them exercise their “compassion” muscles and a great way for us to remember not to make excuses that are judgments. Perhaps kids are better at loving “the least of these” because, like Jesus, they just see people in need.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
It may be hard, but let’s try not to squash children’s loving enthusiasm to serve others in Jesus’ name. As adults, of course we want to keep kids safe, yet we also need to be careful of our own judgments that could be excuses. Likely the righteous (adults) in Jesus’ time, made excuses too. Discuss how you and the younger folks you know see serving others in Jesus’ name differently. Tell them about your enthusiasm for serving others when you were their age and today.
Childhood is a good time to talk to kids about serving in Jesus’ name. Perhaps you can also help us to encourage and support kids through our VBS program next week at MUMC. Don’t make excuses – you can register your kids and/or sign up to help here!
Prayer: Dear Jesus, Help us to serve people in your name and without judgment. Let us help others by your loving example. Let your compassion be felt through all the generations! Amen.