Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hard Words

Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' "Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' "Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' Matthew 25:41-45

The scriptures are clear that proper belief will produce evidence through action.  What we believe will come out in our actions. James said it this way, What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.  James 2:14-17

In Matthew 25, Jesus speaks to two groups whose actions would provide proof of their commitment to Him.  One group is recognized by their compassion and ministry to the needy.  The other group fails to respond to the needs of others and will probably be surprised to be identified in the harsher judgment for they see themselves as "pretty good people."

The characteristics of this second group are:

1. Preoccupation with self & with what self has.

2. Consumed with what they need, rather than what others need.

3. Act on what is most convenient & beneficial for them.

4. Unbelief (unbelieving produces actions of unbelief).

These people don't necessarily have a difficult time ministering to people like themselves. It's not hard to drum up support for those who are clean and nice.  But ask them to serve the down and out, hungry, sick, despondent, poor or wounded of this world and they haven't the time nor the financial resources.  Most of them carry Bibles to church, attend Bible Study, go to Wednesday night prayer meeting and give (of course not a tithe) to the church.  To the community they are outstanding, respectable people and anyone of them would make a good neighbor!

Jesus’ condemnation of these is not so much about their lack of works but the lack of evidence that their hearts have been changed by the gospel.  As James reiterates in his writing, “faith without works is dead” so it is ineffective in saving the soul.  While works cannot save, the saved cannot help but work in service to Christ; it is a part of their spiritual DNA.

Is your heart moved to serve?  It may well be that while your heart is moved your hands are not.  That creates guilt for a believer who knows their life should be making a difference in the world.  There is little peace for anyone who is disobedient to the voice of the Spirit within.  The Holy Spirit has gifted every believer for service so each one has the power to affect a blessing on others.

Look for Jesus today in the faces and lives of those who are downtrodden, without resource or broken from the pressures of life.  He said as we minister to them we are ministering directly to Him.


Scripture to Claim:

If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 1 John 4:20

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