Matthew 25:31-40 (NIV)

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:36 (NRSV)

The king will say, “I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

DEVOTION – Douglas P. Caldwell (North Carolina)

Every week I volunteer at a juvenile detention center with others from my church.  My goal when I joined this ministry was to change these young people and give them the tools they need to make it in the world today.

Early on in my volunteer work, one of the former inmates was re-arrested (unfortunately, a fairly common occurrence).  I saw that achieving my goal wouldn’t be easy.  As volunteers, we provide a positive influence for the young people as we talk to them about life and introduce them to passages of scripture that can guide them when they are released.

But how are we ever going to change them?  Instead of becoming discouraged, I re-read the verse (above) that inspired me to get involved in the first place.  Jesus never said to change anyone.  Whether we are meeting a stranger, a prisoner, or someone who is sick, Jesus gave us his direction.  Visit these people.  Spend time with them.  I have to trust that God will work through us to reach these young people during our visits and beyond.

I try not to become discouraged when I learn that a former resident is in trouble again.  I return to the detention center the next week to show unconditional love.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God sends us not to change people but to love them.

Link2Life: Volunteer with a ministry group in your area to mentor juvenile offenders in detention.

PRAYER:  Dear God, help us to stop trying to change others.  Use us instead to show your love and mercy.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: Juveniles In Detention