The End of the Matter
Almighty God, Your Word has given me confidence that when I call You will answer, when I am speaking You will hear (Isa. 58:9).
Read MATTHEW 25:31-46
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“We do not have time to waste our lives coasting along in casual, comfortable Christianity” (David Platt). Not if we take to heart the central message of this parable.
As we come to the close of the final block of teaching, there is no avoiding the conclusion: it ends in separation. The Sermon on the Mount concluded in a similar way: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 7:21). The parables in Matthew 13 follow the same pattern: “This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous” (Matt. 13:49). In today’s passage we read of a final separation. This has been the pattern in the past few days of readings: the division between the wise and foolish, the hard-working and the lazy, and now the sheep and the goats.
There has been considerable debate as to the meaning of the parable. When Jesus refers to “these brothers and sisters of mine” (40), to whom is he referring? Are they the needy and the poor in general or, following Matthew’s use of Jesus’ language elsewhere, are they his disciples (Matt. 12:48-50; 28:10)? Perhaps the tone of the writing implies the needy in general, but the basis on which judgment is meted out is not solely how we care for the poor. Elsewhere Scripture indicates that salvation is not a reward for worthy actions alone. Rather, the changed life which serves the needs of the oppressed, the vulnerable and the poor is evidence of true faith, as both James and Paul remind us (Jas. 1:22; 25; 2:14-26; Gal. 5:6).
The issue boils down to a fundamental question of how we treat Jesus. The King will judge the nations according to their response to him, most obviously seen in how they have responded in faith and action to the Gospel of the kingdom. The stakes could not be higher (46), and the evangelistic task could not be more urgent.
“For it is by grace you have been saved…created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Eph. 2:8,10). In humility, assess your attitudes and actions before the Lord. What changes do you need to make?
Heavenly Father, again I pray for a spiritual awakening. Startle me out of apathy and casualness. Renew my heart in love and passion for others.