Daily Reading: 7-13-16
Matthew 25:31-46 Living Bible (TLB)
Please pause with me today, as I have many things on my heart. Some times I am entirely taken back by the attitude and responses of people in our world who profess to know God. To actually know God, we must not only profess Christ’s work on the cross for the forgiveness of sin, we must put his loving Grace and mercy into action and witness to Christ’s presence in us by the integrity of our Love. Otherwise, we are simply pretenders of the gospel and not true followers; followers of Christ bear the fruit of the Spirit so the world will be given an accurate image of the One True God. It is by our fruit that we are distinguished as Christ’s followers: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). When we operate in this fruit, we accurately represent God’s attitude toward His children.
It isn’t hatred in the heart that causes people to be separated from God who is Love, it is indifference and rejection of His Law of Grace to bring forgiveness and eternal change to the innate selfish attitudes and routines of human beings. Grace leads us to embrace the merciful heart of God as we look at others. Hatred then has no room to grow.
In the Wisdom Book of Proverbs, we find seven things that God calls abominations; things that God’s Grace was sent to change. These things should never find a welcoming home in the heart of those who profess to know God, because the Spirit will aggressively convict us: a proud look (overestimate oneself and discount others), a lying tongue, hands that kill innocent people, a mind that creates wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to do evil, a false witness who speaks lies (half truths), and one who stirs up trouble among the faithful (6:16-17). Now, think about our world, country, leaders, and people who profess to know God.
In our passage today, Jesus reminds his disciples that the Father is looking for followers who have offered his or her entire being to the work of His kingdom. Christ is returning to earth for a second time and when he does the attitudes, integrity, and faithfulness of his followers to extend mercy and bear fruit will be evaluated. Are we doing our daily work out of love for God while responsibly loving the people around us (neighbors)?
31 “But when I, the Messiah,[a] shall come in my glory, and all the angels with me, then I shall sit upon my throne of glory. 32 And all the nations shall be gathered before me. And I will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and place the sheep at my right hand, and the goats at my left.
34 “Then I, the King, shall say to those at my right, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, into the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes; 36 naked and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Sir, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you anything to drink? 38 Or a stranger, and help you? Or naked, and clothe you? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’
40 “And I, the King, will tell them, ‘When you did it to these my brothers, you were doing it to me!’ 41 Then I will turn to those on my left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry and you wouldn’t feed me; thirsty, and you wouldn’t give me anything to drink; 43 a stranger, and you refused me hospitality; naked, and you wouldn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And I will answer, ‘When you refused to help the least of these my brothers, you were refusing help to me.’
46 “And they shall go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous into everlasting life.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, in your Kingdom I am responsible to care about everyone around me by desiring your highest and best for him or her without enabling selfish action. Help me Jesus to emulate your love and mercy, today, to attend to the authentic needs of my neighbors. Keep my attitude and integrity faithful. Holy Spirit, whatever need you cause my eyes to see, please help me to become a Grace extending follower of my Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.