Who Are "The Least of These"?

Perhaps you're familiar with the story in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John but specifically Matthew chapter 25:31-46) where the Lord is teaching about service and humility. Here's the parable of The Sheep and the Goats:


31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 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, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

So, my question to you, the reader, regardless of your religious or non-religious affiliation, is... who exactly does He mean by "the least of these"? Well, there's the obvious answers: orphans, widows, the poor. 
I think this (also) means whomever you think the least of. In other words, the person to whom you least wish to show courtesy; the irritating co-worker, the rude teenager waiting on you at your local retail business, the obnoxious neighbor with the messy yard, the 'frenemy' who praises you to your face but clearly does not have your best interests at heart... perhaps those people, too, are 'the least of these'. 

It's a challenge for this extremely flawed human being to keep this in mind when dealing with one of these individuals. But at that point, as a Christian, I must search my heart to see how much do I love the Lord? What is more important to me, my own pride, or pleasing Him? 
SIGH. 
Sadly, the answer is far, far too often that I'm really more interested in pleasing myself. That instant gratification of being rude, of pushing for my way, of showing off how intelligent I am (through no effort of my own, that is a gift, too)... instead of loving my Lord and taking care to really Love...the least of these. 
afreimann afreimann
41-45, F
1 Response Jan 20, 2013

I believe they are the innocent little ones.