The Final Test
The Final Test
These are the words of Jesus Himself. He told this parable about Himself in Matthew 25:31-46
“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. “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,
(Church potlucks? Food banks? Food stamps? Welfare? Actual food given to a hungry person?)
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
(Took a homeless person to your house? Offered meals for homeless people? Served the needs of the homeless? Sold your wealth like Scott Neesan, and go serve the poor in Cambodia? Government assistance to the homeless?)
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.’
“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.’
In other words, if you saw God, in the eyes of the afflicted, the poor, the homeless, the people struggling with life, the “losers” of our culture, the pregnant teenage girl, the drug addict, the unemployed… If you saw God, and you helped me, you belong in paradise with me forever! That means you love me! Notice that Jesus did not encouraged the sheep to “evaluate” the worthiness of a person before extending a helping hand… Jesus did not say, you must “help people to help themselves,” or “teach them how to fish instead of giving them fishes.” Just the act of compassion is what matters. God looks at the heart and the motives not your smart evaluation of a situation. I believe there is value in helping people to grow and learn to manage better their resources and abilities to help themselves. But the original MOTIVE of the heart must always be one of compassion, not one of calculated risk!
“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.’
“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?’
Wow… impressive! They had the same question for the King as the sheep, but the reason for the question was totally different! “God, when were you on those conditions? We never saw you… You know we were a church and we would have helped if we would have seen you? But… God… God… the poor, and the homeless we saw were losers! Yes, we saw them everywhere… but for sure, that wasn’t you, God! We had a meal for them once a week, but you did not expect us to see you in them, right? That wasn’t good! They were the ones consuming our wealth and hard-earned dollar, God! Our taxes were going to help people who were in those conditions because they chose to be! You know, that, God… We always made sure we tithed and gave a little bit extra to help the poor in Ethiopia… God… You must be mistaken!
“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.’
“Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”
I don’t care if you are religious or not…
If you attend church every week or not…
If you have the truth or not…
If you are a pastor, a high official of a denomination, or a church member…
If you are educated or not…
Wealthy or poor…
If you are careful with your money or not…
If you are struggling with life or comfortable…
If you are making good money or verily making it through…
Are you a sheep or a goat?
Are you compassionate towards your spouse, your marriage, your kids, the unfortunate people you meet, the people who fail, the people who hurt you? Do you rather forgive or divorce? Do you rather judge or love? Do you rather be right or be found loving?
TRUE “LOVE” AND “SERVICE” ARE ALWAYS COSTLY! They are always sacrificial acts, regardless of the outcome.
Every time you LOVE and SERVE in a relationship, in a marriage, as a parent, as a relative, as a family member with your aging parents, as a friend intervening in a marriage conflict, as a first responder, as a police officer, a fire fighter, a Doctor, a nurse, as a Pastor, in the military, as a government official, as you meet “needy people,” as you deal with abuse and report it, as you meet homeless people, the sick, people in prison, hospitals, people suffering financial challenges… EVERY TIME, you LOVE and SERVE you will be PAYING A PRICE.
TRUE “LOVE” AND “SERVICE” ARE ALWAYS COSTLY!
TO LOVE IS TO SIGN A PACT WITH SUFFERING!
Suffering in this life is inevitable if you will be a loving follower of God.
I am not speaking about self-inflicting, neurotic, self-victimizing, inferiority or superiority complex pride that creates its own kind of suffering. These kinds of suffering can only be alleviated by HUMILITY, HUMBLENESS, LETTING GOD LOVE YOU, AND A SURRENDER TO A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
I am talking about the suffering that comes from “true love and service,” even if you make mistakes in your mode of “loving and serving.” “TRUE LOVE and SERVICE are learned as you practice them in real time, real circumstances.
WHEN YOU LOVE AND SERVE TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY IN RESPONSE TO THE LOVE OF GOD, YOU ALWAYS WIN!
“But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.” (1 Corinthians 8:3)
The Bible says that God KNOWS you if you love Him! The word KNOW in the Bible is is always used for an intimate relationship. God recognizes us by our heart motive and good works that are done in His name. A deep, intimate knowledge means He is aware of you! He watches you! Someone asked me the other day, “How would describe the Good News?” I said, “The Good News is that God forgave you before the beginning of the world. God begs you to let Him love you. Once you surrender to Him, He takes over and God transforms your life! No more worries about salvation and eternal life! God declares you a full members of His Kingdom, now, and forever!” Isn’t that Good News? So opposite to what religion teaches! The Good News are liberating!
How can you tell if you really love God?
Better yet, how can you tell if you are really grateful to God for His extravagant love?
Here are some indicators of whether you are grateful to God for His love, and you just long to be a part of His presence and radical movement on this earth!
You will long for personal communion with Him. When you really love someone, you like to spend time with him or her. And if you really love God, then you will want to spend time with God. Reading the Bible. Praying. Meditating. Talking to Him. Out gratefulness and love, you will seek to commune with Him! That’s what lovers do!
You will love the things that He loves. We know what God loves by what He has declared in His Word. The psalmist said, “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure” (Psalm 119:162). If you seek to find out what God loves, He will reveal it to you.
You will see SIN the way God sees it!. SIN is a condition that only God can heal you from. SIN is not just the “bad” things you do, but the “bad” and the “good” things you do without God! SIN is a condition not just acts! Morality, correct behavior, irreproachable ethics, without God, equals nothing! The “new birth” experience is what the two words describe… A totally new beginning, driven by the transforming presence of God! (Romans 7, 8)
You will love other followers of God. In 1 John 3:14 we read, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” Don’t say that you love God while you harbor hatred toward fellow believers.
Your will gladly invest time, energy and money in God’s Kingdom expansion. A lover of God can not shut up. He has to share God with others. A lover of God is a witness to the power and the love of God!
You will look forward to the weekly gathering of followers of God.
You will long for the Second coming of Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). A follower of God who loves God, is also looking forward, with a sense of anticipation, to Christ’s return. The world will be in a chaotic confusing mess until Jesus Christ returns to make everything right again.
You will keep His 10 commandments. Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me . . .” (John 14:21). If you love God, then you will do what He says. How can you obey God’s commandments? By accepting God’s power in your life! You will never be able to keep perfectly God’s commandments! But in His power you will!
If you love God, the proof will be in your actions and motivations.