30 Days in the Bible, Day 19: Matthew 25:41-46
In warning about the danger of overlooking the needs of those on the bottom of society’s scale. Jesus focuses on something deeper in the hearts of those who bypass the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the oppressed. Christians should be concerned about meeting the needs of those overlooked by others, but simply going through the motions of handing out some food or writing a check isn’t enough to ensure eternal life.
We saw in our daily study that there was an issue of pride involved when we won’t serve those who are lower than we are on society’s ladder. While some want to be seen serving the Lord, and will be willing to meet needs when we get credit for it, they may draw the line when it comes to humble service to the lowly. Pride can be dangerous; it led to the first sin, the rebellion of Satan in heaven. Pride also causes us to place ourselves at the center of our lives and our decisions, which leads to pursuing our own way rather than God’s way.
When Jesus turns to those at His judgment seat and sends them away as cursed, they are shocked. Yet they should not have been surprised at their judgment. They know enough about Jesus to call Him “Lord,” although their sincerity might be doubted. They also know enough to protest that they never had a chance to serve personally. Given that knowledge, they should also have known about Jesus’ teaching on the greatest commandments: love the Lord, and love your neighbor. Their knowledge of Jesus was superficial, and they didn’t bother to go any deeper.
Just as the actions of the “sheep” demonstrated their heart commitment, so the actions of the “goats” do the same. In this case, though, the heart commitment is to self and pride, not to Jesus. Even what might have looked good to those around them lacked eternal significance due to a desire to serve only those they felt were worthy.
We must never take it for granted that those around us in church, in our families, or in our neighborhoods have a heart for Jesus, even when they do what seems to us to be good deeds. If their life shows a humble commitment to serve no matter what, and to put their own agendas aside to follow His, we will see Jesus demonstrated in all that they do. If they put self and personal desires first, we need to be wary. The gospel needs to be preached not only in the world, but in the church. We should take the love and mercy of Jesus, but also His message, wherever we go while we live our lives for Him.