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“I was in prison and you visited me”

February 15, 2024

Daily Scripture

Matthew 25:34-40

34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. 35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’37 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
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.’

Daily Reflection & Prayer

As he often did, Jesus told a short “parable” to paint a word picture of the final judgment. It clearly showed his Kingdom’s priorities. Kingdom people, he said, care for the hungry and thirsty, the poorly clothed and strangers, the prisoners and the sick. Jesus called people like that “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine.” Jesus knew it’s usually easy to serve people who are doing well. He said we meet him just as fully in those who are poor, sick, hungry—and in prison.

  • Too many Christians ignore injustices like the one Pastor Burton suffered—at least as long as they don’t happen to them. Jesus rebuked very pious people in his day for carefully giving a tenth of even tiny herbs like mint “while neglecting justice and love for God” (Luke 11:42). In what ways, in regular or volunteer activities, could you work for greater justice each day? Are you willing to consistently make justice a priority?
  • We sometimes say we should “see the face of Jesus” in people in need and help them. In Jesus’ story, the people welcomed in were surprised—they hadn’t realized they were helping Jesus. Jesus said all people who need help are his “brothers and sisters.” He showed us that we’re one human family, so people imprisoned unjustly, or facing poverty and illness, are “us,” not “them.” How is God reshaping your attitude toward “the least of these” in your community and world?

Lord Jesus, how often have I met you, in need of justice, food, or healing, and turned away without seeing you? Forgive me. Keep shifting my perspective to see and act with your compassion. Amen.

GPS Insights

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

In 1970, Alvin Toffler coined the term “overchoice” in his book Future Shock. “Overchoice takes place when the advantages of diversity and individualization are canceled by the complexity of buyers’ decision-making progress.” In other words, having some choice is great, but too much choice can be detrimental. I recently read about a study in which researchers set up a jam-tasting booth at a grocery store. For half of the study, they gave customers 6 flavors to try. The rest of the time, they gave 24 flavors to try. 30% of the tasters with 6 options purchased jam compared to 3% of the tasters who had 24 options to try. Interesting, isn’t it? It almost seems counterintuitive. You’d think that people would be happier if there were more options, but it can often have the opposite effect. The complexity of the options and the fear of buyer’s remorse can lead people to take no action.

I personally struggle with overchoice. When it comes to making a decision as to where to go out to eat, I’m the worst person to ask. I literally do not care. Every choice is a fine choice for me. I’ll find something to eat anywhere.

The consequences of overchoice are pretty inconsequential when it comes to buying jam or eating out. However, I wonder if it often comes into play when people consider how they might make a difference when it comes to issues of need or injustice. Where is there a need? There’s a need in the inner city, in developing countries, in hospitals, in foster care, in nursing facilities, in prisons, in marginalized communities… the list goes on and on. I sometimes wonder if there is so much need in this world that people get overwhelmed with what to do and therefore do nothing. There’s an overchoice of need. Is it all important? Absolutely! Can I do it all? Absolutely not. As a church, we are called to make a difference and right injustices. I am not called to do it all. I am called to remember that I am part of a larger body of believers; I am called to do my part. Similarly, you are called to do your part.

That’s all fine and dandy, but we’ve already discussed the dilemma of overchoice. Where would one even begin to address needs? Let me tell you how I pick a restaurant when all the options are on the table. I simply ask someone else to pick 3. If you give me 3 options, I can select 1 of those. When the options are narrowed down, I feel more confident in choosing. How does this apply to serving? If you’re stuck in knowing where to start, ask a trusted friend or loved one to provide you with 3 options. You could even write down every option and draw 3 out of a hat. It doesn’t matter how you decide, it just matters that you do decide. That doesn’t mean that you don’t think all of the needs are important; it just means that you recognize where you are to spend your efforts. In God’s mission to bring light to the world, it takes every one of us. Doing nothing gets us nowhere. Let’s all answer God’s call by bringing hope to the place (or few places) we’ve chosen to serve.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.