The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.” . . . He will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.” (Matt 25:40, 45; NIV 1978)

Ahmed and his wife Tirzah (not their names) both work as cashiers at a store where I shop. They are fairly recent immigrants to our country. Their children are mostly grown and either work or go to school. Some live here in the US and some live in other parts of the world. Ahmed and Tirzah are courteous, conscientious, and speak English remarkably clearly. I have enjoyed my brief interactions with these warm, smiling, and friendly people.

A few weeks ago I stood in the line that allowed a limited number of items to be purchased. I had brought two items in my basket that put me over that clearly-marked notice. But because there was one person in that line, I figured Ahmed would ring up my order anyway. And if he would not, I could always put two items back.

The young man ahead of me put almost twice the number of items allowed in that line on the belt. Ahmed pleasantly rang his order up. But after he had done so, Ahmed pointed to the sign and told him that next time, if he had more than the allowed number of items, he should use another line. The young man exploded and said he had been insulted. He told Ahmed that he shopped there a lot and had never had anyone tell him there was a limit. Then, once he had paid for his goods, he announced he was reporting Ahmed to the head cashier’s desk. And he stormed off to do just that.

I confessed to Ahmed I had brought two too many items to his line myself, but he said he would ring up my order. I said, “Sorry”. I paid and left. Only after I was on the road home did I realize that I had not done the right thing. I should have gone to the head cashier and confessed that I, too, had taken too many items through Ahmed’s line. And I should have said that Ahmed served me kindly and we agreed that I had too many items. I would have then said that Ahmed had just as kindly served the young man in front of me who had complained.

I should have stood by Ahmed at least in this fashion when he had behaved so graciously to both of us; but I did not.

I did a bit better the next morning. When the trash truck came by to pick up our recyclable trash, I went out and stood by the bins. I gave the driver two thumbs up as he came to a stop at the curb. And I greeted the fellow who hopped off the back of the truck and emptied our bins into the back of the truck, “Thank you. Have a good day.” The smiles returned from these two hard-working Latinos were smiles both of surprise and delight.

I want to be better at living life, speaking and living as Jesus has told me to do. I want to treat others, no matter their tasks in life as I would want to be treated if I had their jobs. Jesus wants me to live in such a way that, when I see my Lord, he will say, “Come you who are blessed by my father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matt 25:34; NIV 1978)