New Year’s Day | January 1, 2019
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his 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 creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31-46 New Living Translation (NLT)
Today is the first year of 2019. That feels a little weird typing it. Both this post and the other post for this day were written last night. It feels weird especially the first time you do it.
Today we have a remarkable passage from Matthew 25 – which in many ways is a continuation of Matthew 24. These passages describe the signs and times of the coming Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 25 tells us about the judgement at the end of time. All the nations are gathered there and the Great Shepherd now separates the sheep from the goats. This can be a tricky passage – on one hand it appears from a surface reading that the shepherd is simply separating the animals based on what they did or didn’t do. The ones who did good works are the sheep and the ones who failed to do good works are the goats. Like I said, this passage could be troubling to read it that way. After all, most of us believe that Christians are saved by faith and not by our works – not by what we have done.
But what if we did a little deeper. What if the sheep are those who are merciful, kind, generous, loving and willing to do whatever it takes – even at their own expense – to follow Jesus. It is those who are completely sold out to Jesus – as a result of their love and devotion to Christ they help out other humans who are in true need. As a result they are the hands and feet of Jesus and their faith is shown because of their deeds – by what they have done. In James 2:14-17 we have these words:
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?James 2:14-17
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
If our faith doesn’t include love and compassion for our neighbor – what good is it.
The goats are on the left – what words would we use to describe them?
Selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed and self-seeking – We can see that the goats are the antithesis of love, because nothing really matters except for them. You can’t live for yourself and be a child of God. Our faith must be worked out in action.
As we begin this new year, I want to encourage you to be fully surrendered to the cause of Christ. Be fully surrendered to Christ – his will. Do what He is calling you to do!