I have an inner sort of compass of awareness of how people really think of me as Kenny. It is simply this. I know how they regard me by how they treat my wife. That shows me whether or not they care about me or if their relationship with me is not as genuine as it may at first appear. That rule is not a million miles away from Jesus telling us that our relationship with Him is seen for what it really is in what we do for the least of His brothers and sisters, those He loves. If we care for them in practical ways then we show that we genuinely love Jesus.
For some reason the thought that sparked that train of thought was a memory of being in a church mission planning group many years ago. It was ecumenical in nature. Most of the gathering were young…ish, in our 20’s and 30’s. There was one older man. I could not help but notice that he was ignored. He didn’t have up to date theories that he had read about in the latest must-read Christian book; he didn’t have a robust presence in the group, many of whom gave the impression that this was really a gathering for the movers and shakers. I remember feeling distressed and I remember trying to draw him in. To this day however I remember with shame that no space was given to his opinions or thoughts, many of which I believed showed the wisdom of the years. In fact he was ignored. I guess that day Jesus looked at that gathering and knew what it thought of Him by how it treated that elderly man. I actually never went back to another planning meeting because of how that man was treated. What was the point? How could God’s blessing be on any of the planning when Jesus was not wanted?
I think that one of the best preachers on the planet is T.D. Jakes.I love listening to him from time to time. He has such wisdom. He has a style that is natural to him and suits him. I believe the reason for his powerful gifting of communication from a human point of view is that as he was growing up he said there were those who dignified his thoughts even as a child by listening to him. That gave him a confidence that he had something worth saying.
I think this blog today has a very simple message: Jesus knows whether you and I have time for him by whether or not we give time to honouring people who are dear to His heart. The story is told of a wonderful man of God, Bishop Festo Kivengere of Uganda. Revival was happening and he was about to set out to a revival meeting, after having had an argument with his wife! He kissed her on the cheek as he left. As he got into his car he heard the Lord say, “Go back into the kitchen and be reconciled with your wife.” He made excuses as to why he had no time to do that. The Lord said it to him again and again more excuses were made. After this exchange of words had gone on for a while, the Lord said, “OK! You go to the meeting. I will be in the kitchen with your wife!” The Bishop went back into the Kitchen! He used that day to teach a lesson: revival in the kitchen comes before revival in the church.
Willingness to give time and space to people Jesus loves this very day is a sign to you and to me as to how our relationship with Jesus is going. It seems it is all He looks for as the ultimate evidence of the genuineness of any claimed discipleship. At the last, some will come before Him boasting of their ministries and miracles and He will say,”I never knew you.” Others who feel perhaps they did nothing very noteworthy will hear the King say, “Come blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world… in as much as you did to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it unto me.”
Perhaps this day you can give time to someone. Perhaps you can listen to them. Perhaps you can give money to them. As I wrote that last sentence I remember a large gathering of about 12,000 people where I was doing some preaching and teaching: in the course of a week only 23 people had signed up to sponsor a child through “Compassion.” I could not let the week end without making a comment about that in my last morning talk… I don’t know if it had any effect or not! Pride stopped me finding out!!
It is not our place to judge people’s hearts at all. However I told you a few weeks ago that Rev. Jim Graham when he was sharing something from the bible used to pause and say, “I am not making this stuff up! I am only telling you what the Book says!” That is not a bad principle at all, for a preacher or for that matter for a blogger: I am only telling you what the Book says, and what the Book says the King will say one day : “In as much as you did it to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it unto me.” Read it for yourself if you want, just to check I am not making it up. You can find these words of Jesus in Matthew Chapter 25.
May God help you and I to remember Jesus’ words as we go through this day meeting who we meet, welcoming those we welcome, avoiding those we avoid, ignoring those we ignore. What does it all say about where we are with Jesus Himself?
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