You don’t hear too many lessons about Judgment anymore, and I say this simply because I know I haven’t spoken of one for a long time. I think the reason is simple, and we don’t like to hear that type of news…right? You know, the end of times sort of thing. So, this past week, as I was getting ready for one of our evening prayer times on zoom, I found myself looking at what Jesus taught in Matthew 25:31-46. One’s attention, and rightly so, can gravitate towards the “judgment” side of things as you read down through it. But it is not only the Judgment which Jesus seeks to bring forth: but also, that of what we do before it.
“All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one
from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.”
The visual that Jesus uses must have grabbed the attention of His listeners. He has prepared a kingdom (I think of John 14:1-4.) from the foundation of the world! For who? Jesus continues by saying, “…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me” (Matthew 25:35-36). Jesus is seeking to draw a line that reveals that His followers, those who believe in Him, will be committed to serving Him in life. Jesus was leaving soon. He would first resurrect than ascend to the Father. The followers asked, when did we do these things for you? I need to know because it is part of our Judgment. Jesus’ answer is so important to hear, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40). We serve our King as we serve His children. He sees all that we are doing, even down to a simple gesture of a cup of water. It all matters to God!
Why am I thinking about this right now? In a time of isolation, where regular everyday routines are replaced with “stay at home” mandates by officials, we can struggle to think we can make a difference. I wonder if that is, in part, what Satan would want us to believe. But Jesus wants us to know that He is looking not only at the big picture, but the details of that picture. Those seemingly insignificant expressions of kindness that to us, at the moment, seem well inconsequential. The truth is, they matter a lot to our Lord. Jesus sees every expression of love as valuable. Even the small ones. By loving one another, we love him. Those emails that express care: those texts that say, “Have a great day!”: those brief calls just to say hello: all of them are important to our Lord because He knows the difference they can make in someone’s life.
Okay, I have avoided it thus far. The close of this teaching is to the point and needs to be, for the Judgment is no laughing matter. We have freedom in Christ because of the cross. We don’t need to fear the Judgment, but we should anticipate it. As we wait for His coming, we have work to do, and that work is to show our love for Christ and what He has done for us through His redemptive work on the cross. How do we love Him? Through the simple everyday aspects of life as we interact with those around us. Although our present situation may limit some of what we can do, it does not stop us from doing anything at all. A simple meal to a neighbor. A card to someone. A phone call to a shut-in. A thank you to the clerk in the store serving you. Jesus sees the little things in life. God, help us to notice those opportunities and serve Your children as though we loved You.