Father God, please grab our hearts and minds today as we contemplate these words from You. Block out the distractions of the day, and help us center on the message You are giving us through these verses. Help us to really LISTEN! Amen!
The Message (MSG)
The Sheep and the Goats
31-33 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
41-43 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
44 “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’
45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’
46 “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”
When I’ve read these verses in the past, I have to confess I would focus on the difference between sheep and goats, and which one God would think I am… While I do believe we are the products of our upbringing, I also believe that as adults, we are given free will by our heavenly Father. He waits patiently beside us, always a Gentleman, waiting for us to seek a relationship with Him, to communicate with Him through prayer and study of His Word. He does not force Himself on us. We can live our lives making decisions with or without Him. Are we listening and obedient to His laws? The consequences of decisions when we do or do not consult Him can be so very different! I love what the commentary in my Bible (Life Application Bible, NIV) says about these verses:
25:31-46 God will separate his obedient followers from pretenders and unbelievers. The real evidence of our belief is the way we act. To treat all persons we encounter as if they are Jesus is not easy task. What we do for others demonstrates what we really think about Jesus’ words to us – feed the hungry, give the homeless a place to stay, look after the sick. How well do your actions separate you from pretenders and unbelievers?
25:34-40 We have no excuse to neglect those who have deep needs, and we cannot hand over this responsibility to the church or government. Jesus demands our personal involvement in caring for other’s needs (Isaiah 58:7 What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. The Message)
How we decide to “act” throughout our lives will not determine our place in heaven – we are guaranteed that destination only by grace through our faith in Jesus Christ. Having received this awesome gift, as undeserving as we are, we must love every person and serve them as if they were Jesus himself!
Father God, words cannot express the gratitude I have for the sacrifice and resurrection of Your Son for me. Send Your Holy Spirit into my life to turn my thoughts towards the people surrounding me and their needs. Rid my heart of selfishness, so that others will see Jesus in me. Amen.