“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.”
So often, we cry out for justice; we bemoan that there is no justice in the world. But what is justice? Matthew 25: 31 – 46 tells us: Justice is love in action. As Christ followers, we should be hungry for justice, and the type of justice that Christ displayed. So, I ask you, friends, are you providing Christ-like justice to those around you?
Many times, we defer the role we have to play in justice. It’s the government’s problems, it’s the NGO’s problem, it is the church’s problem. But when we defer justice, we defer an opportunity that God has given us to show his love in action.
In South Africa we are faced with so many problems and so much poverty. At almost every traffic light, there is someone begging, someone wanting something. To stop being overwhelmed by it, we stop seeing the people. We chose to not even acknowledge them. And in doing that, we reject them, and we dehumanise them.
The truth is, those very people we are dehumanising are our neighbours – the ones Christ commands us to love. In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31), we see that we need our neighbours, we need each other. Perhaps we will need each other in this world, perhaps we will need each other in the next. But don’t discount the value of a person just because they are poor or in need.
I am not saying you need to fix all the problems for everyone you meet. But you do have the ability to make a difference to someone’s life. It is a sin to know what you should do, have the means to do it and do nothing. Sometimes all you have the means to do is acknowledge the person at the traffic light as an equal human being by looking them in the eye; and yet how powerful it will be to not have heaped rejection onto them.
We do need to help our neighbours, friends, because we need to align our church and worshipping life with a life of Christ’s love in action. It is imperative that we do – just look at how Jesus says in Mathew 25 that this love in action will separate the sheep from the goats. And it is your responsibility to decide if you want Jesus to recognise you as a sheep or a goat.
In the Old Testament, the provision of welfare for others was written into law. But as Christ-followers, it needs to be written into our hearts. We need to become truly compassionate and stop looking at what is will cost us to help others and help others at all costs.
Love in action means that your faith in Christ should disrupt your life. Your life before Christ and after Christ should not only look different because of the inner transformation you have experienced, but it should also disrupt your activities, as you put Christ’s commandments into action.
Come, let us all be sheep.