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Thursday: The Least of These — 13 Comments

  1. Steve Jobs is often cited as saying:

    Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.

    Actually the saying has been around for some time and one of the earliest versions of it came from Ed Wynn, a popular comedian who said:

    “I have no ambition to be the wealthiest man in the cemetery,” he said. “And that, my boy, is the most brilliant thing I ever said. It is worthy of a greater brain than mine.”

    It is interesting that even these financially successful people eventually own up to the fact that life is about more than accumulation and that they want to be judged by history of accomplishing something very different in life.

    Which brings us to the judgement scene of Matthew 25.

    We are to be judged, separated into the sheep and the goats according to what we have done. Does that mean we are saved by works? Is the take away message from this parable that we should go out and do good works in order to be saved?

    I submit that we are saved by the grace of Jesus, a gift from God and that the whole point of the parable is to show that if you are saved then you will be doing good works as a natural outcome.

    To return to the wealth accumulation theme. It is not our wealth of knowledge of Christian theory that saves us. What is important is that our idea of salvation goes beyond mental assent to christian activity. The really important idea that we need to digest is that salvation is not just a state we reach after the judgement, but a way of life now. It is how we live.

    I am currently involved in teaching people how to live healthily. The big picture message we try to get through to those doing the program is that the CHIP program is not just a twenty-week program to become healthy. It is a way of life for the rest of their lives.

    Salvation is not just mental assent it is a way of life. Listen to this:

    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
    And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matt 7:21-23

    That is a tough judgement. Saving grace that is not shared is not saving grace. Christianity is not a theory but a very practical living experience.

  2. One time Jesus said,

    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 in prison and you visited me.

    And when he was asked when that happened, he answered,

    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.

    It’s the third of three stories Jesus told his disciples during the last week of his life. He told a story about ten bridesmaids, five of whom were not prepared for the bridegroom’s appearance, and a story about a master who was going on a trip and who gave three servants a portion of his property to manage in his absence (two invested, made a profit, and were rewarded; the third servant buried the money in the ground for safekeeping and was punished)....

    Jesus is clearly trying to prepare his followers to continue on without him. That context makes these stories particularly important. The third story, according to Matthew, is the last thing Jesus said to his disciples by way of teaching. You might conclude that it is a summary of his teaching. It’s about judgment day. All the nations of the world are there. Jesus is the judge: he’s separating the sheep from the goats. The sheep are the righteous ones: they inherit the kingdom, the reign of God. The goats are treated harshly—“depart from me,” from the reign of God. The point here is not the symbolic imagery of eternal fire but what is actually happening. There is a judgment. Human beings are accountable to God for the way they live their lives.

    According to Jesus, the criteria for judgment are simple: “I was hungry and you fed me; thirsty and you gave me drink.” “When did we do that, Lord?” the righteous ask. The unforgettable answer: “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

    And then the counterpoint: “I was hungry and you gave me no food; thirsty and no drink; a stranger and you did not welcome me; naked and you did not clothe me; in prison and you did not visit.” “When, Lord? We don’t recall any of that happening. We didn’t see you hungry, thirsty, cold, and homeless. If we had seen you like that, believe me, we’d have been there, right there with you.” The clear, devastating indictment: “Just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”

    Notice that both groups are surprised by all of this. Neither is aware of the eternal significance of what they were doing or not doing!

  3. In Matthew chapter 25
    Jesus has spoken about the parable of the ten virgins, the parable of the talents; however, this is not a parable.
    It is a description of a future scene of judgment after the glorious second coming of Jesus.
    In three days He would be crucified; yet He spoke of “When the Son of Man comes in His glory.”

    · He had around Him a handful of disciples – one would betray Him, one deny Him, and the others forsake Him; yet He spoke of “all the holy angels with Him.”

    · He lived in utter simplicity, almost poverty – and was rejected by almost all the great and mighty men of the world; yet He said He would “sit on the throne of His glory.”

    There are situations in our life that are beyond comprehension.
    The injustice of this world sometimes seems to be overwhelming.
    Do not despair, Christ himself had to endure all these and enter into his glory.

    Matthew 19:28 & 29
    28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, in the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for the sake of My name will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

    Truly I tell you is a promise made by the God of the universe.

  4. "What powerful obligation does this put on us and how we live?"

    Is the Christian life a question of obligation - or a question of absolute necessity? Could we be missing the point of what is actually going on within humanity that is the problem - and what God's 'solution' actually and practically is?

    What if:

    1. The core human problem that commenced in Gen 3:6 is our inherent disposition and tendency (Rom 5:14) of a heart that is naturally self-seeking?

    2. Our greatest need is to have our heart re-created so that it instead operates on the principle of self-renouncing (Ps 51:10)?

    3. This change is the process and outcome of salvation (Jn 3:3-7)?

    If this is the case, would it make sense that:

    1. We need to be reborn - have a new heart and right spirit recreated within us and then to give our new heart and right spirit an ongoing 'work-out' (Phil 2:12-13) in the 'gym' of daily life and living?

    2. God looks on the heart rather that the outward appearance (see eg 1 Sam 16:7)?

    3. God's 'judgement' is not God determining our destiny but instead revealing the condition of our heart so that all can see how and why we will 'naturally' arrive at our chosen life or death destiny (see eg 1 Cor 4:5; Gal 6:8)?

    Could it be that the strongest motivation for life change from self-seeking 'love' of self to self-renouncing love for other is the awareness that this is the only way true life can and does work? Could this be what salvation is - giving us a 'second-chance' to join with God in having our lives (and hearts) rebuilt back to the way things were prior to the entry of sin in Gen 3?

    If what I have outlined above is true, our motivation is awareness of absolute necessity rather than a sense of obligation. Think about it for a minute. Do you eat, drink, breathe etc because you are obligated to or because you realise that without it you can't live?

    This is how and why I would propose that "Christianity is not a theory but a very practical living experience" (quoting Maurice Ashton above).

  5. A living faith means action. At the end, we all live by values and standards we hold on to. We are the result of what we truly believe. And there is no money that can assure us comfort after we die. What really matters is today! How are we going to live?

  6. Jesus shared I the weakness of humanity except sickness. He was hungry, naked, imprisoned, thirsty ... but never sick . WHY?

  7. Let this mind be in you as it was also in Christ Jesus.
    Where does the mind of Jesus leads or does not lead his people? What does his mind tells us to do or not to do?
    The hymn says- Give me Lord the mind of Jesus, make me holy as he is ...... It is having the mind of Christ that matters. The mind of Christ will determine who are account as sheep or goat.
    As you have done it to the least of these my family, you have done it to me.
    On Earth Physical: The color spectrum of human beings range from a very dark brown color( high In melanin) to a very light color( few melanin) but we are all connected with the color of red blood. We are one big family on earth. Made and fashion by our creator. Made to render service to each other. He gave some more talents, opportunities, money, etc. Some he gave less, he determined what he wants to do and how he does things because he sees the past, present and future.
    In heaven, Spiritual - at the judgment, which this human family cannot determine or control, this big earthly family despite our color, class, education, religious preference, nationality etc is divided into two section. Yep, no more than two. One refers to the sheep (has the characteristics of) and the other, by default or otherwise, the goat (has the characteristics of).
    Jesus is not only a father to the Christians, but also to everyone else in this world, the entire human race. He said if we do it (good works) to the least of these, we have done it to him. The Universal families ( people) come first then every other things.
    When my Jesus says, I was hungry and you did not feed me, thirsty and you didn’t gave me food etc, he was not singling out no special class, religious background, etc he was speaking in general terms. Many times humans pick and choose who to render service to by coming to a conclusion (judge).
    Do we realized those separated ( having the characteristics as goat) also did good work. Only Jesus knows the motives of this big universal family heart. He read the hearts of those determined to be goats and saw they did not possessed his mind. Self/Satan had taken hold of them. Any mind devoid of Christ is led by Satan.
    Those with the sheep characteristics were surprised and asked the question, when did we see you hungry, thirsty etc and took care of you. The reply was, you did it to one of these my children ( can be of any color, religious background etc) you did it to me.
    Are we determined to help everyone who the Holy Spirit leads us to, or are we like Jonah. He was sent to a wicked nation but those people were still highly esteemed by our Heavenly Father as his children.
    Many other religious/ non religious people also do good. The question is asked, what is our motive in doing good? Only at the separation will tell.

  8. When we look upon ourselves as the purchased possession of Christ, we shall more clearly realize our need of His constant presence in order that we may represent Him by manifesting sympathy and love to all who are brought within the spear of our influence. Our life is charged with solemn responsibilities, and it is only when we are fully consecrated to God, only when He cleanses us, and puts His own life and spirit upon us, that we can rightly represent Him to others. Our accountability extends to our thoughts, words, and acts, as well as to our larger transactions among our fellow man. Ellen G. White Comments, 3rd Q, Thursday 8/22/2019

  9. So true. true. For example. I am a legal immigrant, but when I behold the constant problems many immigrates people face it hurts my heart. I could have been like them but in constant prayers the Lord prevented me from moving when I had wanted. Saying this, I do not rejoice thinking I am blessed or better. We need to sympathize and support those in distress. Leave the judgment to Jesus. Preach and show love for each other.

  10. How do we reconcile what is said in Galatians 5:14 KJV ("For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; You shall love your neighbor as yourself.") with Matthew 22:36-39 KJV (1st, "Love God. 2nd, Love your neighbor.")?

    Answer: they are one in the same (Matthew 25:40). By loving our neighbors, we are loving God.

    • Possible addition to answer: One law - multiple dimensions of expression of that law.

      That one 'law' (operating principle) is that true/abundant life (Jn 10:10) is ONLY viable when every aspect (dimension) of that life is both underpinned by and infused with self-renouncing love.

      Satan's attempt to live life upon an alternative basis (self-seeking) is evidence of the truth of the above statement. Any basis other that self-renouncing is INHERENTLY INCAPABLE of supporting life and therefore by default results in non-life/death. This is why the wages ('due' consequences) of sin (lawlessness - ie being out of harmony with the law of self-renouncing love that alone can support viable life) is death (Rom 6:23).


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