March 18, 2012

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”

This is a justly famous verse, and it has been applied and misapplied by and to many, many people down through the centuries. It’s important to note that this is not part of a parable, it is a literal description by Jesus of what is going to happen in the Judgment. It is thus an important guiding principle for every believer, but it has also been hijacked by those who have no intention of living in obedience to God. Those who want to take the place of God want to create dependence in others, and this verse has been used to that end. However, justification for such use falls apart when we consider the whole Bible, which encourages individual responsibility and accountability. The situations Jesus mentions in this passage – sickness, hunger, imprisonment, and the like – are essentially temporary conditions. Also, Jesus is talking about individual response to needs, not organizational, much less governmental response. This verse cannot be used to justify the “nanny state,” however much people try. It is also important to note that Jesus says, “My brothers.” If someone is in rebellion against God, their first and primary need is for repentance, not social welfare. That’s why the current brouhaha over free contraception is such a crock. Making it easier for people to violate Biblical morality is doing them no favor at all!

Naturally, I need to be an instrument of God’s love, grace, and compassion toward all I encounter. However, I also need His wisdom and discernment in order to provide each person with what they need, rather than necessarily what they are asking for. This is a major issue for every pastor, because the world is full of leeches, as well as those with genuine needs. It’s important to note that Jesus didn’t heal every sick person in Judea and Samaria during the years of His ministry. If He had, there would have been no one for Peter and John to heal at the Beautiful Gate! (Acts 3:1-10) I am not to be stingy in any way, but I am to seek the Lord for how to minister to whom, lifting people up and drawing them to Him, rather than creating dependence on me or enabling rebellion against God.

Father, yet again I am reminded that I don’t have the wisdom to do things right on my own. I ask You to work in and through me so that needs may be met and people drawn to repentance and faith for salvation. Keep me from being cold and analytical about needs that come to my attention, but rather let Your love flow through me whatever the cost to me, so that hearts may be turned to You and Your name praised and glorified. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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