According to a legend, Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) was riding his horse one day when he saw a leper by the roadside, begging for money. He dismounted, gave him a coin, and kissed him on the cheek. As Francis rode away, he looked back and thought for a moment that he saw Christ Himself standing where the beggar had stood.

This story illustrates a wonderful biblical truth: We serve the Lord when we serve a needy person. Jesus made this clear when He said that any kindness shown to the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the sick, the destitute, and the imprisoned will be judged as having been done directly to Him (Mt. 25:40,45). He identifies so closely with the oppressed that serving them in His name is the same as serving Him.

We tend to limit our own service to Christ by thinking that ministers and missionaries are the best able to do it. But whenever we extend help in the name of Jesus through acts of caring, Jesus Himself is there even though we cannot see Him. And someday when we stand before Him, He will recall our deeds of love performed in His name and say, “Well done!”

Let’s keep on serving Him by serving others.