37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in, or naked, and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and come to you? — Matthew 25:37-39
It may seem odd to stop quoting this passage with just the questions. We like to get on to the part where Jesus gives the answer. If we’ve done any of these things to the least of his brothers or sisters, we’ve done it to him. But I’d like to think about the questions
Yesterday, Jody and I attended a funeral for a wonderful lady, a good friend, and a gifted encourager in the church. I know that she has touched thousands of lives directly and indirectly. So far as I know, she never regarded herself as extraordinary in any way. She was just who she was, she did what she did, and that was a witness to her Lord.
As I looked around the church at the folks gathered there, I was delighted to see so many of the people she touched thanking God for her life. But I started to compare that gathering with the heavenly gathering around the throne. Now that’s terribly unfair to the earthly proceeding. It was a good celebration for her life. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining.
But if someone who was a VIP in the world’s eyes passed away, we would have many hundreds more in attendance here on earth. But I suspect the heavenly celebration for our friend would surpass the one for those who are regarded as â€œgreatâ€ here on earth.
You see, heaven doesn’t look at things in the same way as we do. Heaven will not be counting the political power accumulated, or the number of people who held that person in high esteem, nor the material possessions he or she had on earth. Heaven is interested in who this person touched during their time on earth.
Then there’s the ripple effect. Heaven is big on ripples. I can illustrate this from this devotional list. Time after time, Jody or I have gotten e-mails from people who have been touched by it who are not subscribers, and didn’t read it on the blog. They say that a friend sent them the devotional, and sometimes we don’t even know that person. The blessings spread out in ripples.
As I listened to folks talk about our friend’s accomplishments, I thought about the difference between heaven’s reckoning and ours. In heaven’s reckoning our friend had made a pretty big splash. I’m sure there were more angels around for the heavenly celebration than there were people hereâ€”many more.
Sometimes we think that there’s nothing really that we can do, that we’re not important enough to make a difference. When we think that, I suspect we’re getting caught in the earthly view. If we haven’t ruled any kingdoms, won any wars, built large buildings, written volumes destined to be classics, or given millions to charity, we really haven’t done anything. But that’s a deadly trap. If you have just one dollar and you use it right, you have no idea what it will accomplish as it ripples out from you. If your only gift is a smile, you have no idea what it might accomplish.
Try it! I don’t know what will happen here on earth. People might recognize some of what you’ve done and they might not. But there’s a heavenly celebration, and if you’ve been using your smiles, your kind words, and your loose change (or one of a myriad of other things), you’re probably going to run into someone who will say, â€œYou don’t remember me, do you? I’m that grocery store checkout lady you smiled at 20 years ago. I needed that smile! It gave me the courage to go on. After that, I had a son who . . .â€
Do you get the picture?