When did we see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you anything to drink? Or a stranger and help you? Or naked, and clothe you? And I will tell them, ‘When you did it to the least of these, my brother, you were doing it to me’” (Matthew 25:34-40).
“Dear Ruth, I’m going to be in your neighborhood Saturday afternoon and I’d like to stop by for a visit. Love always, Jesus.”
Her hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. “Why would the Lord want to visit me? I’m nobody special. I don’t have anything to offer.”
With that thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets. “Oh my goodness, I really don’t have anything to offer. I’ll have to run down to the store and buy something for dinner.” She reached for her purse and counted out its contents.
Five dollars and forty cents. “Well, I can get some bread and some cold-cut meat, at least.” She threw on her coat and hurried out the door.
A loaf of French bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of milk—now Ruth had a grand total of $.12 to last her until Monday. Nonetheless, she felt good as she headed home with her meager offerings tucked under her arm.
“Hey, lady, can you help us?”
Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans that she hadn’t even noticed two figures huddled in the alleyway—a man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than rags.
“Look, lady, I ain’t got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been living out here on the street, and, well, it’s getting cold and we’re getting kind of hungry, and, well, if you could help us, lady, we’d really appreciate it.”
Ruth looked at them both. They were dirty, they smelled bad, and frankly, she was certain that they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to. “Sir, I’d like to help you, but I’m a poor woman myself. All I have is a few cold cuts and some bread, and I’m having an important guest for dinner tonight. I was planning on serving that to Him.”
“Yeah, well, okay, lady, I understand. Thanks anyway.” The man put his arm around the woman’s shoulders, turned, and headed back into the alley.
As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart.
“Sir, wait!” The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alley after them. “Look, why don’t you take this food. I’ll figure out something else to serve my guest.” She handed the man her grocery bag.
“Thank you, lady. Thank you very much!”
“Yes, thank you!” It was the man’s wife, and Ruth could see now that she was shivering.
“You know, I’ve got another coat at home. Why don’t you take this one?” Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over the woman’s shoulders. Then, smiling, she turned and walked back to the street without her coat and with nothing to serve her guest.
“Thank you, lady! Thank you very much!” Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried too. The Lord was coming to visit and she didn’t have anything to offer Him. She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she noticed another envelope in her mailbox.
“That’s odd. The mailman doesn’t usually come twice in one day.” She took the envelope out of the box and opened it:
“Dear Ruth, It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely meal. And thank you, too, for the beautiful coat. Love always, Jesus.”
The air was still cold, but even without her coat, Ruth no longer noticed.