The Time is Now

Matthew 25:31-46

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire 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, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Devotion

The last two weeks we have looked at pride and prejudice. We learned that the sin of pride births the sinful action of prejudice. We also learned that because we are all sinners we struggle with pride and prejudice. The whole human race was impacted by Adam’s sin, and the result is that we live in a fallen world. We also learned that we must let God’s Word saturate our minds and hearts. Paul told us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Heart change is the beginning of the process of dealing with this sensitive subject of racism.

Now that we have looked at our hearts and minds, it is time to proceed and look at our actions. It is easy to pretend that injustice doesn’t exist. We can jump into our beds and cover up our heads. This is how some people don’t deal with injustice. We can get angry and verbally demand action! This approach puts the responsibility on others. Or we can look to the Scriptures to see what God prescribes.

In Matthew 25, Jesus encourages us to identify with the marginalized. He goes so far to say that when we minister to the needs of the marginalized, we are in fact ministering to Him (verse 40). Here are some practical things Jesus instructs us to do: feed those who are hungry, quench the thirst of those who are thirsty, welcome strangers into your home, provide basic needs, minister to the hurting, and visit those in prison. Of course, there are physical and spiritual dimensions to each of these instructions. We must be willing to associate with those who have not had the same advantages as us. If all we do is write a check, then we are not identifying with those who feel marginalized.

As a church, we have tried to provide many opportunities for people to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are hurting. Each person must examine their own actions and ask themselves, “Am I living out these principles that Jesus taught?” It can be very uncomfortable identifying with people who are different from us. But remember what Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.” You see, if they are Jesus’ brothers then that means they are our brothers as well. You see, we have the most important thing (Jesus) in common.

The time to act is now! Inaction is not acceptable. The time for throwing money at the problem or demanding somebody else do something about it is over. We must identify with the marginalized in our society and engage in real hands-on ministry. Many of you are already doing this! Keep up the good work. Some of you have been sitting on the edge of the pool dipping your toes into the water. It’s time to take the plunge. Still others are standing in the background afraid or unwilling to get involved. Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing. To this group I would say, remember the words of Jesus to those who identify with the marginalized, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” When we identify with the less fortunate, we will experience spiritual rewards that cannot be quantified.

Questions to Ponder:

What is one practical thing you will do this week to identify with a person from a different race? What is one practical thing you can do this week to minister to someone less fortunate than yourself? How did God speak to you through His Word today?

Prayer Points

  • Ask God to speak to your heart today about ways that you can get involved in standing against pride and prejudice.
  • Ask God to open your eyes to see opportunities for you to stand in the gap for those who are marginalized.
  • Ask God to help you be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Suggested Prayer
Father, I praise You for how You have established Your kingdom here on earth, inviting me and Your church to partner with You in the family business of knowing You better and making You known to those around me. Thank You for inviting me into this place of saving lives, investing in eternity, being an ambassador of Jesus Christ, equipping the saints and bringing You glory in all I say and do.

Thank You for Your Word, thank You that You are not distant but up close and personal. You call me friend. Thank You for Your body, Your Church, Your flock whom You love so dearly. I am Your inheritance and You are mine.

Remind me each day of the infinite value every single person has in You and therefore they have infinite value to me. Teach me to love every single person I meet or see.

Open my heart and eyes each day to those very different from me. Lead me right to them so there can be mutual edification and mutual growing in You together by our differences. I have so much to learn and so many areas to grow up in. Thank You that each person is made in Your image and is so very precious. Grant me words of love to speak, actions to bless and show me how to serve. Remind me of all the things You have given me. Thank You for the gift of life everlasting in You. Show me Lord how to use all the things that I am in You to minister to those around me by the power of Your Spirit within me. I want to bring You glory on the inside of my heart and mind, as well as be Your hands and feet. I want to be compelled by Your great love and show how much I love You by sharing You with those I meet as well as ministering to every single person I come into contact with. I ask all of this in the powerful Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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