Friday, June 1, 2012

Inspiration from a Blind: Do You Care for "the Least" Most?

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Do you love and care for "the least" in your community? Who are "the least"? Jesus answered this question in his parable in Matthew 25:31-46 (WEB):

When the Son of Man [Jesus Christ] comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered [on Judgment Day], and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will tell those on his right hand, "Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me." Then the righteous will answer him, saying, "Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?" The King will answer them, "Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." Then he will say also to those on the left hand, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire [eternal destruction] which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you didn't give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn't take me in; naked, and you didn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me." Then they will also answer, saying, "Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn't help you?" Then he will answer them, saying, "Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn't do it to one of the least of these, you didn't do it to me." These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Thus, "the least" are the most vulnerable in our community, the most in need of our love and care.

Throughout the Bible, Yahweh God Almighty emphasized the importance of ministry to “the least” and commanded people to love their neighbors as they love themselves (Leviticus 19:18).

In the Old Testament, Yahweh laid out specific laws that governed how people should look after the poor, the widows, and the orphans; some of the decrees include:

1) We should not take advantage of the poor and cheat them of their wages: "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he be of your brothers, or of your foreigners who are in your land within your gates: in his day you shall give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down on it; for he is poor, and sets his heart on it: lest he cry against you to Yahweh, and it be sin to you." (Deuteronomy 24:14-15)

2) We should not mistreat the widows and the fatherless: "You shall not take advantage of any widow or fatherless child. If you take advantage of them at all, and they cry at all to me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath will grow hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." (Exodus 22:22-24)

3) We should not look down upon or oppress The physically weak or those who are at a disadvantage, as the deaf and the blind: "You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind; but you shall fear your God. I am Yahweh." (Leviticus 19:14)

The word "curse" here is translated from the Hebrew word "qalal," which refers to treating someone with disrespect, contempt, or disdain. "Qalal" is belittling someone or looking down upon them, as if they are of little importance. We should never take advantage of the weak. We should never think in our hearts, "They're an easy target," or make fun of them. Every person is a creation of God. To mock the weak is to insult God, whom we must fear.

The theme of ministry to “the least” continues in the New Testament. Jesus Christ, our greatest model of a Servant Leader, commanded us to minister to the most vulnerable of our society in both speech and deed. He spent much of his precious time on Earth with the outcasts of society, people whom many shunned and detested. He stayed at their homes, dined with them, and warmly welcomed them into His heart and to receiving the gift of salvation. For instance, the Gospel of Luke tells us that while Jesus was eating at a house of a Pharisee by the name of Simon, a woman “brought an alabaster jar of ointment [which was very expensive]. Standing behind at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and she wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” (Luke 7:37-38) Seeing this, Simon said to himself, “This man [Jesus], if he were a prophet, would have perceived who and what kind of woman this is who touches him, that she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39) Thus, Jesus gratefully accepted this woman while the self-righteous Pharisee frowned upon her, forgetting that he, too, was a sinner.

Besides setting physical examples after which we should model, Jesus pointedly told us to minister to the broken. He said, “When you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; and you will be blessed, because they don't have the resources to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:13-14) When we honor the indigent and love them as we love ourselves, we will not only be loving them but Jesus Himself: “Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

In the apostolic letters, we are exhorted to minister to our brothers. Our “brothers” are whoever need our help, and whomever we can help. The apostle John said:

"Whoever doesn't do righteousness is not of God, neither is he who doesn't love his brother. If a man says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn't love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him?" (1 John 3:10; 1 John 4:20-21; 1 John 3:17)

Thus, if we see our brothers in need, we should not “love in word only, neither with the tongue only, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18) Our deeds should include ministry to the fatherless and widows, as the apostle James said, “Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)

We should never treat the poor less favorably than we treat the wealthy:

"My brothers, don't hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory with partiality. For if a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, comes into your synagogue, and a poor man in filthy clothing also comes in; and you pay special attention to him who wears the fine clothing, and say, 'Sit here in a good place'; and you tell the poor man, 'Stand there,' or 'Sit by my footstool'; haven't you shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers. Didn't God choose those who are poor in this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which he promised to those who love him?" (James 2:1-5)

In the parable of the separation of the sheep and the goats on Judgment Day Jesus told in Matthew 25, it is clear that whether the needy are sent to us or we go to them directly, we are expected to offer our hearts to them, to bring to them the love and the peace of Christ, and most importantly, the Good News of salvation through Christ.

If tomorrow were Judgment Day, would Jesus say to you, “Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”? If not, start showing the love of Christ to the least of your community, today!

~*~Q&A with Dr. Shirley~*~

Question: In Ephesians, the apostle Paul wrote: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all." (Ephesians 4:4-6, WEB) Could you please identify each of the seven "one" components Paul mentioned?

Answer: Here, Paul listed seven "one" components that are most important and fundamental to Christians.
a) One body refers to the church, the body of Christ (all believers as a unit)
b) One Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit, which is God's active creative force that dwells in each believer to help them live according to God's will
c) One hope refers to Christians' eternal hope for their future resurrection and everlasting life with Yahweh God and Jesus Christ in God's Kingdom
d) One Lord is our Lord Jesus Christ
e) One faith is Christians' faith in Jesus for salvation
f) One God and Father of all Christians is obviously Yahweh God Almighty

But what is our "one baptism"?

Whenever we come to the word "baptism" and its related forms in the Bible, we need to realize that it doesn't refer to water baptism every single time. As a matter of fact, the New Testament describes three main baptisms:

a) John the Baptizer performed water baptism for people
b) Before his ascension back to heaven, Jesus promised his disciples, "For John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now." (Acts 1:5) This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
c) Before his execution, Jesus said, "But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!" (Luke 12:50) This is the baptism of suffering for the world that only Jesus was baptized in.

So we have at least three baptisms in the New Testament. Which baptism was Paul referring to when he said "one baptism"? All the seven "one" components he listed are vital to Christians, so the one baptism must be required for any Christian in regards to their salvation. Paul spoke about this baptism in his other letters. Let's read a few verses:

"For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Here, Paul tells us that the baptism of the Holy Spirit puts all Christians into one body of Christ. All true Christians have "drunk" the Holy Spirit like water. This was what Jesus was referring to when he said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, from within him will flow rivers of living water." (John 7:37-38) This is referring to "the Spirit, which those believing in him were to receive." (John 7:40).

God saves Christians "through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly, through Jesus Christ our Savior." (Titus 3:5, 6)

" were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:13, 14)

"Don't grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)

"Now he who establishes us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God; who also sealed us, and gave us the down payment of the Spirit in our hearts." (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not only very important, but as you can see, it is essential for salvation. Note that the Holy Spirit is given to each Christian as a "pledge." This means that God gives each Christian the Holy Spirit as a down payment or deposit that he or she will be glorified, which is the final stage of salvation. The Spirit "seals" God's promise to Christians.

Only the baptism in the Holy Spirit seals Christians with a pledge. Since this spiritual baptism is essential to salvation, Paul, I feel, was referring to this baptism when he wrote "one baptism" in Ephesians.

May the grace and peace from Yahweh God and Jesus Christ be with you.!

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Best regards,

Dr. Shirley Cheng

Award-Winning Author with 27 Book Awards
Founder of Ultra-Ability Ministry
Proclaimer of Yahweh God's Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ
Author/Contributor/Editor of 35 books by age 27, Bible Teacher, Poet, Motivational Speaker, Self-Empowerment Expert, Advocate
Board member of World Positive Thinkers Club
"Although I'm blind, I can see far and wide; even though I'm disabled, I can climb high mountains. Let the ropes of hope in Yahweh God haul you high!"
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