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The Least of These

by Nancy Canwell

On that cold November day Christina stopped by the mailbox outside her house on her way home from school. What she found inside was a real eye-opener.
“Mom!” she hollered as she walked through the front door. “Do you want to see something really sick?” She handed her mom two brochures that had come in the mail.

One was from an organization that feeds starving children around the world. It said that every minute of every day nine children die from hunger. In the four minutes that it takes to read the brochure, 36 kids will have died! The brochure then stated that for about the cost of two fast-food meals, you could feed two families in a distressed country—for a month.

Christina handed her mom the other brochure. “Now look at this!” she said.  It was from a company that sells fruit and candy baskets for the holidays. She looked at the cost and realized that for the price of one fancy box, five families in a distressed country could be fed for a month!

Comparing the two brochures made Christina realize that maybe there should be more to Thanksgiving than giving thanks. This year, why not try giving more . . . than just thanks?

Gotta give

I recently asked a 20-year-old college student, “Why is it so hard for teens to give?”

She answered, “People are selfish. Deep down inside most of us really only care about ourselves. We don’t want to lose anything. We don’t want to be inconvenienced. We need to get outside our little worlds and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.”

Her comment reminded me of the story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10. He asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?” (see verse 17).
Jesus told him to keep the commandments. He told Jesus that he had been keeping the law since he was a little boy. But Jesus knew that this young man lacked one thing—a giving heart. What good did it do to keep the law if he was selfish?

Jesus said, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (verse 21, NIV).*

You’d think this guy would jump at the chance to follow Jesus and have eternal life! But do you know what he did? He walked away. He walked away because he’d rather keep what he had on this earth than to give it away in order to have eternal life. Now, there’s someone with messed-up priorities!

Wanna share?

So you’re probably wondering, What might I give at Thanksgiving this year?
Here are a few ideas:

• Serve Thanksgiving dinner at a local mission with family and friends.

• Clean out your closet and give some clothes to an organization that collects them.

• Collect canned foods with friends to donate to your local food bank. Better yet, spend some of your own money to buy the food!

• Ask your parents to invite the family of a kid from your class who may not get a nice Thanksgiving dinner to your house.

• Get together with friends and bake some pumpkin pies to take to people who are too old to bake their own. Oh, and don’t forget the whipped cream!

• Offer to rake your neighbor’s leaves while you’re on Thanksgiving break.

These are just a few ideas. You and your friends, or your family, might think of other ones. And if you can’t get anyone to join you, do it yourself!

Feelin’ awesome

When you give at Thanksgiving, two people benefit. It’s not just the person that you’re giving to—it’s also you. You have the joy of knowing what it feels like to make a real, tangible difference in someone’s life.

And you have the feeling that comes from knowing that you’re giving to Jesus, too. “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ ” (Matthew 25:37-40, NIV).

When you give, you’re giving to the King. You’re giving back to Jesus, who gave His life for you. This Thanksgiving season, give unselfishly to others; I promise it’ll be the best decision you’ll ever make.

*Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Nancy Canwell writes from College Place, Washington. She’s a writer, speaker, and former youth pastor. She has written the Review and Herald 2015 junior/earliteen devotional book, He’s Got Your Back. It’ll be available this fall.

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