These Words Turned My Parenting Perspective Upside Down

I just thought Matthew 25:41-45 was the most terrifying passage in Scripture.

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “

But as I was reading it to my kids the other night, and discussing ways we could flesh out this too-important command, I was crushed with the weight of its true meaning and by how I had completely missed it so many times.

Who are “the least of these?”

That’s the first important question to answer in light of Jesus’s chilling words here.

We know they are disciples of Christ, because Jesus refers to them as “brothers.” (Jesus referred to his personal offense in the treatment of Christians similarly, when he asked Paul, “Why are you persecuting me?” referring to the Christians Paul had persecuted.)

We know they have needs.

But Jesus also refers to children as “the least of these” in other passages, even mentioning the ministry of giving a cup of cold water to a little one.

So here’s where it punched me:

When we talk about ministering to others in Jesus’s name, as He explains in this passage, we do it with a willingness, joy and even an eagerness. Whether it’s taking food to a sick neighbor or saving up money to minister to an orphanage on the other side of the world, we take pleasure in it because we understand the very act to be good and right. We delight to serve others–those people out there, because it’s esteemed by men as well as Christ.

BUT…if ministering to the needs of little ones is the same as ministering to the needs of Christ (and by reasonable deduction we can easily conclude that), how am I ministering to my own children and husband? I mean, I certainly meet their needs. Lots of them. But with what spirit and attitude? If to feed them is to feed Christ, do I do it with the same gratitude as if He were my guest? If to clothe them, bathe them, tend to their needs is the same thing as doing it to Christ, do they receive the same willingness and love I would give if it were Him?

I confess that too often I do the thing, but I don’t truly serve. Not with the same mind and heart I would if Christ was the actual recipient. In fact, sometimes I grumble. And yet, over and over He told us to follow His foot-washing example. I don’t want to serve Christ with a grumbling spirit. And so, I must seek to serve these, the least of these, without one.

It’s true, we are human. We get tired and we aren’t going to live up to Christ’s perfect example. But still it’s there for us to strive for. I want to know that when I stand before the judgement seat of Christ, I hear “Well done…when you did it to them, you did it to Me.” 

How’s that for a change of perspective!

Ends tonight!!!

11 Responses to “These Words Turned My Parenting Perspective Upside Down”

  1. Lisa H. says:

    So easy to miss this! Thank you for the much needed reminder.

  2. Cindy says:

    I’ve often thought that our culture is very quick to use those words to mean “other people’s children”, but very slow indeed to apply them to our own. Instead, we treat them like the last people who should expect our kindnesses, like extensions of our selves. You know, the ones we’re supposed to deny. Nope. They’re actually our nearest neighbors. :)

  3. Holly Byrd says:

    OUCH! That completely hits home. However, I am truly encouraged to keep going (and hopefully with a better attitude ). I tend to have challenging expectations of our children but I forget the expectations God has for me. My husband and I have 6 children (so far) and I pray God gives me more grace than He has already given as I strive to raise children for His kingdom.

    I love your encouraging posts!

  4. This is really challenging and so encouraging. Recently I feel I have become the mother I thought I wouldn’t be: easily irritated by noise/naughtiness/squabbles and impatient, too. I have two under two-and-a-half and I thought it would be “easier” when my youngest wasn’t a baby. Oh, how I’ve been surprised since I now have two TODDLERS in the house, ha! I’ve been reading Sally Clarkson’s The Mission of Motherhood and oh, how God is pressing on my heart the desire to be a gentle and tender mother – especially in the middle of chaos, not just when it’s quiet and easy. Thank you Kelly, I bought your Think Outside The Classroom book from The Book Depository and am so looking forward to reading it {though it has been lost in transit going on two months now!}.

  5. Eva says:

    Thanks Kelly God is good!!!

  6. Sarah D. says:

    You need a “like” button. =)

    It’s so true: How many times do my children ask for something not too unreasonable and my reply is “do it yourself” or “no” just because I’m tired or feeling selfish. I need to have this perspective with the dishes, too… We don’t have a dishwasher where we are living now, and I hate doing the dishes! There are 6 people in our family and we just learned that our 5th child will be joining us next spring, so I have lots of dishes and am not feeling great right now. =P “…do all to the glory of God.”

    • Erin says:

      You are not alone Right now I am standing next to the pile of dirty dishes and missing the dishwasher we had in our previous house! I’m too frugal (cheap?!) to buy paper plates. But, heavy sigh, dishes for eight along with pots and pans from homemade meals three times a day are wearing me out. Glad to know that I’m not the only one who gets a bit overwhelmed. And yes-my kids help at times but our schedule is such that we often get home and eat late, everyone needs to eat and head right to bed. Except mom.

  7. […] goes similarly like my last post, where I pointed out the importance Christ put on serving “the least of these” and how […]

  8. Maryana says:

    Thank you, needed this today. We are in a new phase of fostering a newborn and also have a 2 and 4 year old. The needs are many, the exhaustion is real. And I often fall into grumbling. What a great reminder.

  9. Kelly L says:

    Wow. Needed this.

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