MATTHEW 25:31–46 ESV
“"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."”
Having kids is great for a 1,000 reasons but for preachers they are wonderful for sermon illustrations. Laney and Maggie are 16 months apart and they have truly grown up together. We basically stay in the same stages of life for a while because one will be exiting something while the other enters into it.
One stage we’re in right now is their ability to play together without Ashley and me watching. We’re getting a bit more comfortable letting them do their own thing around the house. But with the ability to play together comes the ability to argue. So, every now and then, we hear from upstairs, “No, Laney!” Or from the playroom, “Maggie, give it back!”
Its a tough stage because they love each other and show signs of concern at times, but there are moments when they are out for what they want, just as any growing child is. If one gets hurt, the other tries to distance herself from the scene because they do NOT want to get blamed.
It's at that moment when Ashley chimes in, “Laney, you need to check on your sister,” or, “Maggie, you need to ask Laney if she’s ok.” Having concern for the other shows compassion and a genuine interest in the wellbeing of another.
For us today, we hear this call from Jesus’ telling of what the end of days will be like. When the end comes, and life has been lived, God will separate those who have been a blessing and those who have been a curse. Those blessed are called sheep, for they listened well to the voice of their Shepherd. Those who are goats were a curse to those in need because they did not show compassion on God’s beloved.
The part that is hard to hear but must be heard is that the goats aren’t separated from the sheep because they weren’t nice to people. They are separated because they neglected God. For God considers the failure to show compassion to the needy a failure to serve Him. Meeting the needs of others is what moves the heart of God. To act against what moves God’s heart is to be out of sync with God. One of the main reasons for this is because God has chosen to minister to the world through us. Therefore if the ones He has asked to help do not help, we are no longer a blessing but a curse. To neglect is to reject in the eyes of God.
Our lives are either a reflection of God or a reflection of our fallen selves. The point is that judgement is coming and when it does, we will be found as either people who have loved others as God loves them or people who loved ourselves only.
As I read this week, it struck me for the first time that the people were separated by what they already were. They were either sheep or goats; blessings to the world or curses to the world. Their designation was a result of whether or not they served Jesus by acting on His love within them or rejected Jesus by choosing their own comfort. To bless others is to meet their needs as Jesus would meet them—with compassion and advocacy. And to curse others is to leave them in their squalor and ruin and so break the heart of God.
We take the love of God within us and let it drive us to the aid of the fallen, and we lift them up. We are called to be a blessing. If we believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, then the Holy Spirit that lives in us will compel us to godly love. If we are not compelled, then we have tough questions to ask and answer.
This does not mean that because you have been self-absorbed lately that you are without Jesus and bound for hell. What we’re getting at this morning is simply that if the Holy Spirit lives in your heart, then you are moved to action in all manner of ways. For most people in here this morning, this is a call to get back on the horse and resume your duties of seeing Jesus in the eyes of those in need. For a few today, this may be a call to ask Jesus to be Lord of your life and then begin living out the godly compassion that reigns in the hearts of faithful followers of Christ.
Regardless, we must understand today that you are saved by grace through faith because God loves you and sent His Son to make a way through the sin and death that seeks to sink you. And we takeaway from this lesson that you are saved, yes, but then immediately called to minister to a scarred and broken world as vessels of compassion and grace.
And so we ask you today, where will you be a blessing this week? In what way will you share compassion and grace? How will YOU lift up the broken hearted? What would Jesus do? He would find ways to lift up the heads of the hurt, the hungry, the helpless, and the hung-out-to-dry, and He would show them a better way. He IS showing them a better way…through you. Go, be a blessing. Amen.