benevolence

Sheep and Goats

(Matthew 25:31-33 WEB) 31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then will he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats: 33And he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Every one of us is both good and bad. We are sinners saved by Grace. So is this Grace absolute? Or is a merit system involved? In “The Judgement” in Matthew 25, Jesus sees the the answers in black and white. In fact, throughout scripture the completion of our life ends with either Heaven or Hell.

But the rewards in Heaven will not be the same for each person. Here’s a humourous look at how that might work. I think the last line in the joke is a correct statement.

Qualified

These next 4 verses are surprising. The righteousness had to ask how they qualified. They qualified because their righteous acts were instinctive. I’ve served people in need at a public meal and sat down with them. I gave my service and my time to them. Others in our church conversed with one another and afterwards complimented themselves for their good deed. It’s only when our hearts are vested in those that have missed having the love of Jesus given to them in a meaningful way.

(Matthew 25:37-40 WEB) 37Then will the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came to thee? 40And the king will answer and say to them, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] to me.

I’ve reached out to a number of people at our previous weekly public meal, mentored men at a pro-life crisis pregnancy center, been involved in a recovery ministry, and tutored children at a rescue mission. I’ve also befriended some of the guys I knew from these ministries and given them rides, helped them find housing, and taken them to restaurants and karaoke. I spent enough time in more than one setting to know that they were safe.

Investing

True devotion to God and others requires investing in other people’s lives. One example that comes to my mind is an outreach effort from my church to the community around our church. Around our church are 8A housing in every direction. We had an evening VBS along with an adult Bible study. No one in the community attended. I asked the two adult leaders of that Bible Study if they knew the first names of any of the parents, who had to register their children every night. Sadly the answer was NO. People in 8A housing feel vulnerable to people who are not needy. Personal involvement though will bring them out. Time is needed by church members who also will initially feel vulnerable in the presence of people in 8A housing.

Jesus condemns the people who failed to exude genuine compassion for the people they were serving. I said “serving”. How a person perceives a stranger determines the reaction of the stranger. “Holier than Thou” or “Condescending” attitudes are simply going to reinforce the hesitancy of people to come back.

Cursed

(Matthew 25:41-43 WEB) 41Then will he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was hungry, and ye gave me no food: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

I can only conclude from the following verses that people in need were literally turned away. Or worse yet, someone might have asked if a church member would come to their home and explain the Christian message to them and the church member refused (very politely do you think?). Jesus illustrates the lack of hospitality to the needy. We are to minister especially to people on the outside of church and moreso outside of faith in Jesus.

(Matthew 25:44-46 WEB) 44Then will they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? 45Then will he answer them, saying, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

The sad part of these last verses is that the church people thought they were doing the right things all along. Either they were turning people away or their service to people coming to their church was condescending and judgmental. Instead they should have set down with them like family members they hadn’t seen in fifty years. God wants us to get to know them and build relationships with them.

Transform

In this classic story by Leo Tolstoy, a humble old shoemaker discovers that by helping those around him, he is really serving the Savior.

There is no merit system in play when Jesus considers our church ministries and the individuals that are a part of the church ministries. Jesus befriended and ate with sinners and like a magnet brought people to His side.

Church is not for the people who’ve arrived, but for the people who will be transformed. And a truly transformed Christian will not say or act as if they’ve “arrived”. A truly growing Christian church will be full of transformed people and not grow only on the basis of the glitz and easy sermons in the church

Facts about Goats and Sheep

https://www.andreascenter.org/Articles/Sheep%20and%20Goats.htm

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