Deeds for Human Needs

Meeting Human Needs (Matthew 25:31-46)

Here’s a bumper sticker that will start a lively discussion: “ You love Jesus only as much as the person you love the least. ” If that bumper sticker is discomforting, then this Bible text, Matt 25:31-46, is disturbing.

Who are we to love and to help? Does it really matter? Can’t we just love the likable people, and ignore the rest?

Grace or Deed?

For many Christians, this parable from Jesus ( sorting out the sheep from the goats according to how they love ) is troubling. “ We live under grace, ” some would say, “so what’s this about the King categorizing us according to our deeds? I don’t agree with that theology! ”

Is our theology formed by our traditions, and philosophical thinking, or is it formed by the actual words of Jesus? Jesus teaches that how we live and love makes a difference in our eternal “ inheritance.” Those who do not love properly  “will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. ”

Jesus grabs our attention, saying, “ Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. ” We all want to know who will get the inheritance. Each of us will be put into one of two groups — sheep ( the righteous ), or goats ( those on the left ). We’re not talking politics here. Those who want to inherit the kingdom had better learn how to treat every person the same way they would treat the King. The King is watching. The righteous cannot shun certain people and expect to fool the King. That teaching from Jesus was extremely upsetting to some in his original audience ( see 26:1-4 ).

We are being commanded to meet human needs, to give food and drink, invite people over, give away clothing, help the sick, visit prisoners. The disturbing part about this is that we cannot be selective. Jesus embodies all those in need, down to “ the least. ”

This teaching should jolt us at every level. Kennon Callahan speaks to the modern church as he comments on this very text, “ There is nothing in the text that suggests ‘for I was hungry, and you bought a piece of land, I was thirsty and you hired a pastor, I was a stranger, and you held a committee meeting, I was naked and you sought out an architect, I was sick and you raised money, I was in prison and you built a building.’ . . . By the time the land is bought, the minister hired, the members acquired, and the buildings built, amnesia has set in and we have forgotten why we did all of this in the first place. ” Ouch! Our committee meetings had better relate somehow to meeting needs of people; or else we are goats.

In our individual lives, opportunities come our way all the time to love “ the least. ” I doubt that we are off the hook if we hand out a dollar to a beggar with a cardboard sign. It must go deeper than that.

Goats or Sheep?

When Dr. Paul Brand returned in 1990 for a visit to his childhood home in India, he was welcomed by a mob of people whose lives were touched by the work of his parents. Philip Yancey ( Soul Survivor ) accompanied Dr. Brand on that trip.

Yancey recorded the following speech by one of the local Indian women: “ The hill tribes didn’t practice abortion. They disposed of unwanted children by leaving them beside the road. Granny Brand would take these children, nurse them back to health, rear them, and try to educate them. I was one of the unwanted ones, left to die. There were several dozen of us, but she treated it more like an adoption center than an orphanage. We called her Mother of the Hills. . . . She paid for me to go off to a proper school, and eventually I earned a master’s degree. I now teach nursing at the University of Madras, and I came several hundred miles today to honor the Brands for what they did for me and many others. ”

The big words here are “ nursed ” “ treated ” “ paid. ” The King is watching. Are we goats, or are we sheep? The King knows if we are helping any of “ the least. ”

Interestingly, both the goats and the sheep were surprised by the King’s observations about them ( vv  38, 44 ). The goats probably muttered, “ Well, if we knew you were disguised as a low-life, then we would have helped you. It’s not fair. ” The sheep likely thought, “ Lord, you are a good King. We do not deserve your goodness. You are more than fair. It is an honor to serve any and all with the love you have shown to us. ”

Dear Brothers and Sisters don’t believe the theology of I’m saved I don’t need to do anything.

In Romans 12 Paul teaches the responsibility we are given when we accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour. He died for us and we must die to ourselves.

Romans 12 is not the only place in Scripture that tells us of deeds we need to do, there are over 40 in the N.T. that tells us if our faith is dead or alive in Jesus.

NO; deeds do not obtain our Salvation we can’t buy it, but when we are saved by Christ, by our belief and trust in Him, which is given to us freely, we then NEED to go to work for Him.




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