“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:31-46 (NLT)
It is easy to go through these parables of Jesus and think to ourselves that it is by works and effort that we get to heaven. Jesus says elsewhere “Believe (or trust) in God. Believe (or trust) also in me” (John 14:1). Paul says, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God” (Ephesians 2:8). All followers of Jesus are saved because God first loved us and because of the free gift of Jesus taking our sins away. But this gift is supposed to motivate us to change our behaviors. Therefore, Jesus can say to the sheep, “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink…” (Matthew 25:35). Our works on this world matter on to eternity. We must stay prepared by using our time, talents, and treasures for God’s kingdom. We must take time for our spiritual disciplines even when this world distracts us. We must do the things that Jesus asks of his followers, even when we don’t think he is watching. It is not about earning salvation. It is about showing our appreciation to him who created us, redeemed us by his blood, and is restoring us by the Holy Spirit inside of us.
Do you struggle more with trusting in Jesus to save you or with sacrificing your time, talents, and treasures to follow Jesus? If you struggle more with doubts and fears of trusting in Jesus to save you, why it is a struggle to believe God offers you a free gift? If you struggle more with being an example of Jesus in this world, ask yourself why? What is stopping you from showing compassion to those around you? How can you change your struggle into a stronghold in your life?