There are many ways and avenues for us to respond and help others in need. In his own way, Willie Nelson is providing one of the more novel methods of helping others. He’s a long-renowned fan of the therapeutic properties of marijuana and he owns two cannabis companies. His mission statement for his companies and the products they offer is, “My stash is your stash.” Mi stash es su stash, if you will.
I think I recall first hearing the message of encouraging “random acts of kindness” in the 1980’s. With the pandemic, it seems this message has been even more prevalent. I’m a huge fan of acts of kindness, but I take issue with them being or even perhaps the possibility of them being random. I took a lot of statistics classes where we carefully studied the concept of “randomness.” The outcomes of flipping a coin or spinning a roulette wheel are random, but acts of kindness are very different. Acts of kindness require interaction, intentionality and conscious focus.
Matthew 25:40 (The Message) says, “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.” As Max Lucado points out, “This is the theme of Jesus’ final sermon. The message he saved until last. He must want this point imprinted on our consciences.” Lucado goes on to say that when we love those in need, we are loving Jesus – a mystery beyond science or statistics.
In this passage in chapter 25 of Matthew, Jesus is sorting out the sheep to the right and the goats to the left (i.e., those that provided acts of compassion and those that did not). Jesus isn’t saying that we should heal the sick or liberate those in prison, but we should at a minimum visit them. Max Lucado says, “The sign of the saved is their concern for those in need. Compassion does not save them – or us. Salvation is the work of Christ. Compassion is the consequence of salvation.”
Father, give us eyes to see and ears to hear wherever we encounter you. Give us a heart to respond and hands to serve. Amen.