Last night at our bible study we looked at Matthew 25:31-46. This is the passage where Jesus talks about the separation of the sheep and the goats – the separation of those who have a true relationship with Him versus those who don’t. I have studied and read this passage many times in my Christian life but last night it hit me in a different way. In this passage Jesus is talking about what He “expects” of His followers. I will pause here to affirm that I believe in salvation by faith alone. There are no works that can earn our salvation. – Jesus Christ has paid the penalty that we could not pay. Now with that being said, good works do not EARN our salvation but they do AFFIRM it.
Jesus says in Matthew 25:34-36 “34Then 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. 35For 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, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” And the righteous respond: “When did we do this to you?” And the King responds: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (vs. 40). What Jesus is saying here is that when we serve the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the needy, the sick and the prisoner, we are doing this TO Him. Jesus didn’t say FOR Him but TO Him.
This hit me in a powerful way last night. How many times have I served someone as if I was actually serving Christ Himself? Do I see Christ in the the bum that I pass on the street? Do I see Christ in the person who calls me with a desperate need? Do I see Christ in the starving child in Africa? Do I see Christ in the murderer in jail? So often, it is too easy for me to not see these people as opportunities to serve Christ Himself. Too often these opportunities are seen as inconvenient or too “costly.”
Also, when these opportunities arise I know it is easy for me to feel all high and mighty about myself – like somehow I am “better” than these individuals who are in need. I can rationalize why I shouldn’t help – I can come up with lots of “good” excuses. Or if I do decide to do something for a person in need, I usually end up patting myself on the back for “humbling” myself to do it – making myself feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But the problem with this is that the question is not “Am I NOBLE or HUMBLE enough to serve someone in need?” The question is “Am I worthy to serve Christ who is represented in this person in need?” It is a privilege and honour to serve Christ in ANY capacity. If we have this mindset, it SHOULD radically affect the way that we look at the hungry, thirsty, the stranger, the needy, the sick and the prisoner. When we see a person in need we should be seeing that person as Christ and as an opportunity and privilege to serve Him.
I am praying that God will continue to open my eyes to this reality and that I will respond accordingly.