Matthew 25:31-46 —
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that 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 something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’
And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me 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 nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’
Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just 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.”
from Darrell Pierce, Clarksburg, WV
The story is very similar to that of the “Good Samaritan.” It deals principally with the second half of the two greatest commandments in scripture. First we must love God and secondly we must love our neighbor.
The first commandment is the first step toward the second. Truly loving our neighbor is very difficult. It goes very much against our natural tendency to love ourselves. Loving God helps us follow the example of Jesus who loved us enough to die for us.
Love is not an emotion; it is an action. If we love our neighbor we must show it with our treatment of that neighbor. But even if we love our neighbor, it is difficult to decide how much of our resources we should devote to that love.
Should we give all our money to the poor? Should we quit our jobs, leave our families, and live among the poor full time. Is there something better than money and time we may devote? Which neighbor should I help? The scripture mentions six different situations. Must we take care of all of them?
The decisions are impossible without Holy Spirit leadership. That is why “love God” is the first commandment. We must love God enough to want to help our neighbor then ask God to lead the decision of which and how.
As the scripture shows, loving our neighbor in an active, physical way is necessary. With a sincere desire to be obedient and with a good relationship to the Holy Spirit we can do it and we can receive Jesus’ positive response.
Gracious God, may my life and the lives of all the faithful
reflect the goodness of your Son Jesus Christ,
especially in our obedience to you in all things great and small.