Daily Devotional May 23, 2023

“…‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ “. (Matthew 25:40, NIV)

     I lived in Texas for the better part of a year. On my days off I would drive throughout Central Texas. I enjoyed seeing the breathtaking views of the Hill Country.

     While traveling alongside the Guadalupe River, I came upon an unusual sight. A long line of cowboy boots was sitting atop a row of fenceposts. I had heard that cowboys leave their boots to convey messages to passersby.

     So, I pulled into a roadside café outside of New Braunfels for lunch. I asked the waitress about the line of boots I had spotted earlier. She informed me that the practice of cowboys leaving their boots on fenceposts has a longstanding tradition.

     Before the age of modern communication, cowboys used boots to convey messages to one another. For example, if a cowboy was working in a northern pasture, he’d point the toe of the boot northward. Boots also were used to memorialize a friend or a favorite horse that had died. Fenceposts likewise were used for the mundane purpose of drying one’s boots, which I imagine pleased many a wife not to have the smelly footwear in their homes.

     Yet leaving one’s boots on a fencepost often marked a gesture of goodwill. When a cowboy decided to buy a new pair of boots, he would set the old boots outside near the road. Those who were less fortunate could take the boots for themselves. This form of charity allowed the recipient to maintain a good measure of anonymity, as well as dignity.

     Jesus once said,  “…‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40, NIV). This extraordinary statement indicates just how closely God identifies with those who are in need. God considers the aid we give to others as an offering equal to any gift we may lay upon the altar.

     And yet, the “boots” we place upon the fenceposts not only become a means of grace that honors God but makes us more like Jesus. Our endeavors to bless others grant us the greater gift of a sanctified soul. As Jesus would later claim, it truly “is more blessed to give than to receive”. (Acts 20:35)

     So, the next time you clean out your shoe closet, consider the charitable ways in which you might bless someone in need. Your trash may become someone else’s leather. Even more, the soul God touches just may be your own.