34 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. 35 “ ‘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 took me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or without clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
As a believer in Christ, you may have found opportunities to serve others who have needs. It is amazing how we come away from those experiences feeling like we received so much more than we ever gave. That is one of beautiful benefits of serving others.
But what about when you have been in a very difficult time personally? It seems that when I am burdened and feeling down, I look more inward than outward. If you have experienced that same feeling, let’s look at today’s passage to gain wisdom.
To better understand this passage, let’s look at the context about which Matthew was writing. The scene describes Jesus coming and sitting on His throne before the nations of the earth. He is sitting there as Judge for the works believers gave in service while on earth. But you may ask, “Will I be judged according to my works and possible be excluded from His Kingdom?” After you read this passage, it sure looks like a person who has not served others unselfishly may be in jeopardy of losing salvation.
God’s Word always agrees with itself. Other passages can give us clarity on exactly what is being stated here.
First, what is our salvation based on? According to Ephesians 2:8-9, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.” The basis of our salvation is never received or earned by anything we do; it is a gift of grace from God Himself. But why then is our passage in Matthew talking about entering His Kingdom because of any good works I may have done?
According to Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10, all believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. But why? According to 1 Corinthians 3:9-15, our works will be judged on the basis of their spiritual quality. In other words, did my efforts assist God’s plan and benefit His Kingdom? Good works which helped the poor who were hungry, who needed clothing or who felt the isolation of confinement will be rewarded by God.
Also consider the timing of our passage: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory” (vs 31). These people will have lived through the extremely difficult days of God’s tribulation on the earth. They will have faced the most incredible difficulties and yet remained faithful to consider and serve others. What a lesson for us to learn about serving, not out of convenience, but out of faithfulness to our God.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Have you experienced a time in your life when serving others was personally difficult?
- What can you learn from this passage about faithful service to others?
- Do you absolutely know that God doesn’t grant you eternal life in His Kingdom based on your service, but only on the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross?
Pray for the staff and volunteers in the Medical Dental Unit. Pray for the churches the MDU partners with, that they would continue to connect and walk through life with those who come for care, sharing Jesus in multiple ways.