The year was 1780, and Robert Raikes had a burden for the poor, illiterate children in his London neighborhood. He noticed that nothing was being done to help these children, so he set out to make a difference. He hired some women to set up schools for them on Sunday. Using the Bible as their textbook, the teachers taught the poorest children of London to read and introduced them to the wisdom of the Bible. Soon about 100 children were attending these classes and enjoying lunch in a safe, clean environment. These “Sunday schools,” as they were soon called, eventually touched the lives of thousands of boys and girls. By 1831, Sunday schools in Great Britain reached more than a million children, all because one man understood the truth: “The righteous considers the cause of the poor” (Proverbs 29:7).
It’s no secret that Jesus cares greatly for those who struggle. In Matthew 25, He suggests that followers of Christ show a readiness for the Lord’s return by helping the hungry to get food, helping the thirsty to get a drink, helping the homeless find a home, helping the naked to get clothes, and helping the sick or imprisoned to receive comfort. (Matthew 25:35-36)
As we bear witness that Jesus Christ is in our hearts, we honor our compassionate Savior by considering those on God’s heart.
Awaken my heart, Lord, to those You care about, including the poor and helpless, the hungry and homeless, the troubled and hopeless in our world.
Open your heart to God to learn compassion, and open your hand to give help.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideshis sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
Today’s Bible reading is a portion of what is sometimes referred to as the Olivet Discourse, our Lord’s last recorded public sermon before going to the cross. Matthew 24:3 says the Jesus led His disciples to the Mount of Olives, where He delivered this message on the future judgment and the establishment of the kingdom. Jesus spoke to them of tribulation, of the coming of the King, and of the need to have prepared heart. It’s a sober message, yet one that ends with Jesus calling His followers to a heart of service that reaches out to hurting people with compassion and generosity.
– Bill Crowder