“Assuredly, I say unto you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” ~ Matthew 25:40, New King James Version
It’s my left ankle.
When I was visiting my sister, I went for a jog on a favorite trail near her house. I don’t run often but I do love to go out in the woods and dart around between the trees. The trail is uneven and rooty so I should have known better, I should have walked instead of run but I didn’t. And a couple miles out, I twisted my ankle. Of course I did.
Oh my ankle, I thought. It’s been weak since college. Silly ankle, there weren’t even any roots where I fell. Oh ankle, I said, you’ll be fine.
I walked for a few steps then ran the rest of the way home.
I did put ice on it but not for very long. I took some ibuprofen but not consistently. I rubbed some arnica on it but hours after it happened. I took yoga the next day. I didn’t really give my poor ankle much attention or care.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” ~Matthew 25:40, New International Version
Nearly 19 years later, what I remember is how kind he was to the waitress.
When we went out for the first time in January 1998, I had been on my share of restaurant dates. In my time, I’ve gripped my chair and swallowed hard while dates treated wait staff with superiority, curtness, impatience and even (I shudder) ridicule. Mostly, though, my experience had been that waiters were treated as though they were invisible.
I remember other things from our first date, of course. I remember what I wore (black turtleneck sweater and jeans), where we went (Mono Loco before it was only tacos), what we drank (that amazing hibiscus tea) but what has stuck with me after all these years is that he was kind to the waitress. He offered a friendly smile and gratitude. He saw her.
Verily I Say to you, That inasmuch as ye did so to one of these my little brothers, ye did so to me. ~Matthew 25:40, Aramaic Translation
I am neither a church goer nor Bible reader but Matthew 25:40 cuts straight to my heart. The truth of this: however you treat the least of these, so you treat me. YES. THIS is the measure of any person, group, organization or country. Not how much money they make or the awards they get or the number of followers they have. Nothing is as great a measure of character than how they treat the least among them.
If an executive treats the boss with cooperative respect but doesn’t acknowledge the maintenance team when she passes them in the hall, that says something about her.
If a congregant offers the worship leader compliments while he complains about the difficult and talkative octogenarian who sits in the front pew, that says something about him.
If a company pays executives high salaries but the hourly employees minimum wage, that says something about the organization.
If the richest corporations and individuals get tax breaks and access to political leaders while the poor, immigrants, minorities and the environment get less and less support every year, that says something about the country.
Look at any individual or group and ask how do they treat the least powerful among them. The answer to that will speak volumes. It will tell you everything you need to know about who they really are.