The least of these …

By: Stephen Marsh
October 18, 2012

We tend to focus on the side of the sermon where Christ acknowledges that when we have helped others, we have helped him.

But we tend to pass on by

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Now, I’m not going to get into debates over universal health care, or your right to tax my mother for health care services you don’t want to pay for yourself, but, seriously …  Most people in prison are there because of their own sins and wrongs.  That doesn’t seem to matter to Christ when he talks about ministering to those in prison.

The logic is pretty clear as you work out from there.

The other passage they all love is Alma 1:29: “Because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, …and thus in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked or that were hungry, …and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, …whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to [not among] those who stood in need.” So much for those convenient weasel-words “the deserving poor.”

Note that there is nothing about “deserving” in the scripture or the analysis — in fact, it emphasizes the reverse “no respect to persons … ”

I’m curious.  Of those who read and comment here, how many try to act without respect to persons, to help people according to need rather than according to what they deserve?

If not, why not?

5 Responses to The least of these …

  1. FireTag on October 18, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    I interpret it as meaning I have an obligation to try to save everyone (never met a human soul consigned to outer darkness; hope never to meet one).

    But that does NOT avoid a consideration of the ORDER in which I do so, because helping people closest to me, or more likely to respond, maximizes my chance of success in the numbers of other people I can help and the speed with which I can do so.

    Of course, if I’m open to the Spirit that sees all and knows all, I can certainly be directed to more sophisticated strategies for dividing my labor.

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  2. Howard on October 18, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    I think; living = deserving. But, in order to do this without becoming destitute yourself it requires a closed group that includes many enlightened people at the top. A church guided by divine revelation is of course, the ideal. Once incubated, theoretically it could be grown to a global scale as in the Millennium. The reason the students insisted a free market was the perfect and flawless order of things is because that unknowingly accept and buy into the belief that selfishness is a given. But selfishness and material craving can be transcended and this is the enlightenment required of a significant number of the participants, especially the leaders to do this successfully.

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  3. jks on October 18, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    If I leave my children to go to Africa to help orphans is this a problem? Yes. The damage I would do to my children by abandoning them is significant. I believe I have a responsibility to my children, my family, then my community and greater community and then the greater world.
    I spend time thinking about whose lives I am touching and how I am affecting them.
    I think the smaller the group the easier it is to make sure everyone’s needs are being met. Take a family. No problem. The entire country or the entire world? The problem is way to big to tackle.

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  4. Jon on October 18, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    Via a comment on Pure Mormonism:

    At the Golden Temple This sacred shrine in India feeds over 100,000 people a day regardless of race, religion and class.

    I claim no perfection but I think our brothers in India have something there that would exemplify the scriptures which you sight especially if it is funded by the free agency of the people there.

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  5. Stephen M (Ethesis) on October 19, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Nicely said.

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