Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Judgment day. It's not what you think.

I've been reading through Matthew lately, and I'm at Matthew 25.  The final verses in Matthew 25 describe the scenes of judgment: All nations are gathered before the Lord, and He puts the sheep on one hand, and the goats on the other. This is a final judgment. There is no appeal.  So He judges the sheep first: (Matthew 25:31-40, NASB)
31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;
33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of 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 invited Me in;
36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to 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 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
39 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
40 "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

The righteous (the sheep) are surprised by the Lord's words:  "we don't remember ever helping You," was their response.  The Lord looked back on the course of their life, and looked for what proved them to be sheep. He didn't look for "special occasions." He looked at what they did by nature, and as a common course of action. And the criterion was how they treated "His brothers." In the context, that has to mean "each other," and "other Christians," and also, "People." (as in the second of the two great commandments: "Love your neighbor as yourself")

Similarly, He says to the goats,
41 "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;
42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;
43 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.'
44 "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?'
45 "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.'

46 "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
This is final.  There is no appeal from it. Eternity is now fixed--graven in stone--for each group. 

The point Jesus is making is that our true beliefs are exhibited in how we treat people. We always worry about correct doctrine (and we should); we hear about tithing (and that's important, too), and prayer, and Bible study and church organization and communion services and church and...but none of it means anything if our faith is empty, and our faith shows its truth or falsehood in the way we treat people. 
This is why, I think, that Jesus gave us the "New Commandment," to codify His demands: (John 13:34, NASB)
34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
He wanted us to know that the way we treat people is the main basis for judgment day. Yes, it's true that God looks for our name in His Book, the Book of Life, but the evidence that we are IN the book of life is found here. 

So my question to you is, How are you doing at this?
Do you care for people, or use them?  Do you cheat people? Do you harm them so that you (or your company) can have more money? Do you pay the people who work for you enough to live? Do you worship God with your mouth, but hate Him in your heart? Do the words you speak about loving God mean anything? In other words, do you "love your neighbor as yourself?"
Jesus does not care about your success, your acquisitions, your lifestyle, your power, your religious status, your importance.
He wants to know how you treat people.
He is the Judge. To Him you are like anyone else--either a sheep or a goat.
Which? Take your time to think about this, but don't wait around too long.  Your choice will be set in concrete before you know it.