THE INCREASE: Clayton Kershaw - Hope is a person

This devotional by Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw is featured in The Increase’s 21-Day YouVersion Devotional. Start this plan to hear more articles by Pro Athletes.

My wife, Ellen, and I had been married three weeks when we found ourselves on a plane to Zambia. Ellen had made several trips to a Zambian village, but it was my first time.

When we arrived at the village, we met Hope.

Hope was a beautiful little girl who wouldn’t leave our side. She was what the experts call a “double orphan,” meaning that both her mother and her father had passed away. Ellen and I decided to sponsor Hope, although we didn’t realize what that would or could become.

And maybe that’s the point.

In Matthew 25, Jesus is talking to some folks about what He considers to be of primary importance. He speaks of feeding the hungry, of quenching the dry throat of the thirsty, of inviting the stranger into our homes, and of clothing the naked.

But this passage became more than personal to me when I looked into the eyes of Hope.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. 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. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.

“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. 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, 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.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?’

“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.’

“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. For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, 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.’

“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?’

“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.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” — Matthew 25:31-46

It’s interesting to me that God is separating people into two groups based on how they responded to what Jesus called “the least of these.” And the people who chose to give water and food and shelter and clothing are unknowingly serving Jesus Himself. That’s an amazing and life-changing thought, because it can literally impact the way we live our everyday lives.

I’m not a pastor or a theologian, so I don’t claim to talk with authority about the end times — about what’s revealed in Matthew 25. But I think I can say this with confidence: How we treat the poor and the oppressed is deeply connected to the center of God’s heart. We can’t get around it. It’s everywhere in Scripture. Are we responding to the Jesus we see in their eyes, or are we turning a blind eye to them, hoping that someone else will serve them instead of us?

Ellen and I started a foundation that helped fund an orphanage in Zambia. We called it “Hope’s Home.” I’m not putting us on a pedestal of virtue, or setting our lives up as an example for everyone to follow. We’re as broken as everyone else.

But in our brokenness, we’re trying our best to hear God’s voice, and then respond to it with our actions.

If you’d like to meet my wife, Ellen, and see some images of what’s happening at Hope’s Home in Zambia, then you’re invited to view our Increase story:

The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.