“Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” — Mark 9:41
It was a gesture that stunned the world and stunned me as well when I read about it sometime later: marathon runner Jaqueline Kiplimo performing an absolutely selfless and surprisingly generous gesture that exemplified everything that is beautiful about sports. During the 2010 Zheng-Kai Marathon, she was in first place at the 6.2-mile mark when she came across a fellow competitor who was running the race. He was a double amputee who had no hands and was struggling to drink water and figure out how to stay hydrated. Seeing his situation, she made the choice to run alongside him so she could help him drink when they came across the watering stations.
From that 6.2-mile mark until mile 23, Kiplimo stayed with this competitor, significantly slowing down her own time and eventually costing her the victory and the $10,000 cash prize. But it was worth it to her to forfeit her chance at the win and willingly take second in order to help someone else survive and finish well.
Upon hearing this story years after it happened, I was struck by the real-life resemblance to the Bible verse where Jesus said that whoever would give even a cup of water in His name would not lose their Heavenly reward (Mark 9:41), and where He said that when you did something kind for the least of these, you did it for Him (Matthew 25:40-45).
By many standards, this double amputee would be considered among “the least of these” for obvious reasons. But that didn’t seem to matter to Kiplimo. Even though they were from different nationalities and cultures, she saw his humanity and met him on the basis of his dignity and need. She saw a problem and was willing to meet it — even though it required a significant sacrifice.
What lengths are you willing to go to to help a friend or someone in need? When you notice a problem, are you the first to jump at the chance to solve it? When somebody is suffering or in obvious distress, do you go out of your way to help alleviate whatever discomfort you can and make their burden lighter?
I think we often lose sight of the fact that, in Jesus’s eyes, who first gets to the finish line of this race called life doesn’t really matter. After all, He said that the first would be last and vice versa in Matthew 20:16. What matters most to Him is how we run the miles in between — how we love and care for our fellow travelers and do what we can to be His hands and feet to them along the way.
Those who get the crown of life in the end won’t be those who neglected the helpless. The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 made that clear. Instead, it will be the ones who cared more about if they loved well than where they finished. I pray you and I will be among these.
— Katherine Singer
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