More Thoughts on Matthew Chapter 25:
31-32: When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall He sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats…
34-36: Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
41-45: Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was hungry and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not…. Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
Jesus did not say for you didn’t preach enough.
He did not say for you didn’t pray enough…
praise God enough
study theology enough
understand all the doctrines correctly
read your Bible enough
memorize enough scriptures
give enough testimonies
sing enough hymns
teach Sunday School enough
have the right words at crucial times
give enough money to the poor
work hard enough
present the right appearance
keep your property clean enough
While the points above are all important and commendable, it appears Jesus is more interested in whether we relate with kindness to our fellow human beings than whether we are paying Him enough honour. I may want to praise His name and lift Him up for all the world to see, but if I don’t exemplify His love and mercy, how can my life draw others to Him?
Mic 6:8 says, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
A few weeks ago I was musing on these verses and it came very clear to me, more than ever before: our own judgement will not be based on what we profess or what religious hoops we jump through, but on how our faith translates into action toward others.
It isn’t just about helping the needy, for people of every creed can be charitable. Even an atheist may give money or help out another human being. You can offer help in a condescending, pitying way. You can help from a generous heart or give for the perks you get: the self-satisfaction; the appreciation dinners; the name of a philanthropist.
Whereas the folks in Matthew 25:37-38 don’t remember doing all those things; they simply obeyed as the Spirit prompted, probably never knowing the results. As they stand before Jesus, they feel they have been unprofitable servants; they could have and should have done so much more.
It’s easy to look at these last verses and think of them applying to “those other professing Christians” but I was impressed that day to turn my thoughts around. Stop seeing those verses in terms of others who aren’t doing what they should. This is for me, right now. Am I feeding, clothing, caring and visiting as unto Him?
It’s the cups of cold water I’ve given in Jesus’ name because I am His follower, in obedience to the Spirit’s prompts — given with no thought of earning points or looking for praise — that will validate my faith and, insofar, indicate my eternal destiny. I can’t buy heaven with my good works, nevertheless Jesus says here that my works are very important as evidence at His judgement bar.
I do want to serve Him, even though it will never be Perfect service. I’m too human. It will never be “all I could do,” either. So I lean on His promise, whispered to a dear friend one day when she was feeling guilty for not praying enough.
“You are never enough. But I am Enough.”