Matthew 25: 31-46
This is the last parable about judgment.
Judgment is inevitable to come. Are we living our daily life with the awareness of it?
Judgment is like a shepherd separating his sheep from goats. This is a parable based on an agricultural background that Israelites could readily understand. Sheep and goats differ in appearance and character.
Judgment is about separating what Satan is trying to mix. We can see that God executes His judgment by distinguishing the good from the evil.
In this parable, both parties are surprised at the outcome of their place in Heaven. In other words, they do not expect to stand in the position they are put in and they see others there that they did not expect to see.
One group is blessed for their action in love while the other is accused for their lack of action in love. It seems that salvation is gained through their good works but we know from the letter to Romans clearly that we are saved by grace through faith. Then, how do we understand the good works? They are the fruit of salvation. If we are truly saved, we will bear fruit of love in our life.
For those who were commended, loving others and caring for others is like second nature. When they are doing this, they are not aware of it. Therefore, you see their question, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food to eat and when was it that we saw you thirsty and gave you something to drink?” The Lord replied, “just as you did it to one of the least these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Others who have a heart of love and who have done a lot of caring for others in their own eyes end up accursed. And they raised a similar question to the Lord. Actually these people are conscious about their good deeds to others and they are trying to pile up their works before God, thinking that they can stand before God by them. However in essence, according to what the Lord said, their care for others did not come from a heart of love.
The standard of judgment at the last day is whether we have a genuine heart of love for our brothers and sisters. It is not about what great works we have done in the world or what high standard of faith we hold.
Take a moment to meditate on the great love Jesus Christ displayed for us on the cross. Likewise, let us strive to bear the fruit of selfless love in this lifetime.
By Jeremiah Chan
Bible Portal Contributor
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