‘The righteous will then answer him, “When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?” The King will reply, “I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!”‘ (verses 37-40)
Read Matthew 25:31-46
At funerals it is customary for friends and family to point out all the good things their departed loved one had done. Sometimes it sounds almost like a report card with a final grade. And of course no-one ever fails. . .
What amazes me most about today’s Bible text is the surprise expressed by the righteous people. Most people like to keep score of all the good deeds they have ever done. The want to give themselves a good report card. But the people in this passage don’t pride themselves on all their good deeds. They don’t point out to Jesus all the ways they helped other people. It’s as if these good deeds came totally naturally because of their character – in fact, they probably did. Righteous people have received the heart of Jesus, which means they cannot help but feed the hungry, heal the sick and accept outcasts.
God wants to work on your heart, to continually mould it to be more like the heart of Jesus. Eventually, serving others will be so natural to you that you won’t even recognise the way in which you have served Jesus.
Shape my heart, Lord, to make me more like you. Teach my mind to see you. Take my hands and let me serve you with them. Amen.
by Jorg Ernst in ‘Renewed Hope for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 2000)
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