Matthew 25:37-40 – “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'”
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.’ “ NIV
These questions were asked in a prophecy that Jesus told about judgement when the Messiah returns to earth in glory. The beginning goes like this:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 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. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “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. 35 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, 36 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.'” (Matthew 25:31-36 – NIV)
This is interesting because as Christ-followers we believe that we are saved by God’s grace as we accept Jesus by faith as our Lord and Savior. However, it seems that when Jesus returns there will be some accountability just as was indicated in the Parable of the Talents. So are we saved by God’s grace or our works? Or do our works just prove that we meant what we said when we said that we would follow Jesus? I think that James’ letter in the New Testament would seem to indicate that the type of faith and belief that saves is faith that is willing to act on what it believes. He says it like this:
14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17 – NIV)
The Holy Spirit will transform true believers to become more and more like Jesus; so they will see the things that He sees, hear what He hears, and ultimately do the deeds that He would do if He were physically present on this earth. In doing those deeds, the true believer is not trying to accumulate some “spiritual brownie points,” but is acting out of the love and compassion of Jesus. When the Messiah returns in glory and calls people to account, the true believers will be rewarded for deeds that were done in Jesus’ name that they didn’t give a second thought about. However, Jesus knew about them and it confirms that their faith in following Him was real and true. It was not just mere assent to facts. True faith acts like Jesus would act.
Some questions to consider: What evidence is there in my life that my faith / belief is more than merely agreeing with a statement of beliefs but is actually intent on following and developing a relationship with Jesus? How has God ever given me a glimpse of helping someone was helping Him? How can I become more like Jesus? What if anything is hindering my progress in this area?