And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” [Matthew 25:40 (NLT)]

She had called about a routine matter and then said, “Do you have a minute?” When people ask that, we all know they really mean twenty minutes. I had a minute to spare, not twenty, but I’ve been praying for this woman’s troubled children for several years. I knew she needed to unburden her heavy heart, so I said, “Yes.” Twenty minutes later, she asked me to lunch the following day. Again, I really didn’t have the time, but I knew she needed guidance, encouraging words and reassurance about some difficult decisions she’d made.

When we read the parable in Matthew 25, we’re told not to ignore “the least of these.” When reading that verse, one’s likely to think about the homeless on the streets or migrant workers, the disadvantaged and impoverished, the hungry and abused. We rarely think about the needs of suburban grandmas, wealthy business people, or our next-door neighbors. Their needs, while vastly different from those of the indigent and “down and out”, are often just as pressing. Moreover, their needs won’t be eased by donating food, clothing or money. Lightening their burdens often requires time, patience and energy and is rarely on our busy agendas.

Writing a check to a needy cause would have taken far less time than the time I spent with my friend but would have done nothing to lift her spirits or help her find her way. Do I still have the long “to do” list? Yes. I know, however, that the time I spent with her was time spent sharing God’s love and compassion; it was time doing for Him. Moreover, I’m confident that God will somehow provide me with the time I need to complete my tasks. He always does!

To be glad instruments of God’s love in this imperfect world is the service to which man is called. [Albert Schweitzer]

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. [2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT)]