When I became a Christian in my 40’s, it was this passage in Matthew that had the greatest impact on my life. Unlike many Christians, I take the Bible and especially the words of Christ himself very seriously indeed. Far too many people, far, far too many Christians live as if there will be no judgement, no accounting for how they spent their lives, but I believe with all my heart that judgement is assured. When that time comes, I firmly believe that how I have responded to this specific passage will be the deciding factor in my judgement. It informs my life as a Christian, as a missionary, as a husband, as a father, as a friend, and as a person. I am frequently chided for being too generous, but I don’t think helping others should ever be influenced by whether or not you make money or save money on what you do. I believe in these words of Christ with all my heart:
Matthew 25: 31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All 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. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34“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. 35For 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, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit 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? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40“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.’ 41“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. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I 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.’ 44“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?’ 45“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.’ 46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Think deeply about this passage and an awful lot of the contentious issues that are currently dividing the church fade into insignificance. These are truly words to live by—for today and for eternity.