In Matthew 25, Jesus explains that the day will come when the righteousness of God will prevail and all will be judged. At that time, Christ will come in His glory and take His rightful seat on His throne.
As the nations gather before Him, Scripture states He will separate the sheep from the goats, placing the sheep on His right, the goats on His left. He will then say to those on His right something very important:
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
Those whom He was addressing, the sheep, had not been keeping score as they served the Lord. In fact, they didn’t know what He was referring to. In the verses that follow the scripture above, the sheep asked Jesus what He meant because they didn’t remember those deeds. Jesus explained in verse 40,
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
In the paragraph that follows, Jesus turns to the goats on His left and says,
“Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
He then accuses the goats of having ignored everyone in need and not offering them food or drink, welcoming them, visiting or clothing them. For this they are doomed eternally.
It appears to be the state of their hearts that condemns them. We do not earn nor contribute to our salvation by our works. We don’t gain points toward paying for our sins by feeding the poor, clothing the naked, or visiting the brethren in prison. But if our hearts are right with God, we will naturally be doing these things as goodness flows out from us.
Not naturally in the human sense, but naturally in the spirit. In verse 46 the Lord states (brackets and contents within added),
“And these” [the goats] “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous [the sheep] into eternal life.”
This is strong—how can we do this right? According to Galatians 2:16, a person is not justified by works of the Law, but through faith in Christ.
As Christ followers, we don’t require a calling to help the poor and needy or carry the Gospel to unreached regions of the world—we are commanded by Jesus to do so in Matthew 28:19-20,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
There is no indication that one needs to hear the call of God to carry out this commission. We just need to be obedient. Are we out of our comfort zone? Absolutely. Is it necessary? It is required. God the Father inspired this verse, Jesus the Son said it empowered by the Holy Spirit. This is not me talking—it is the heart of God.
We can make ourselves feel better by saying we aren’t called to go, but make no mistake—it is God we will answer to on that judgment day, and He made it a command for all.
So, I must be honest with myself and ask the questions—Where is my heart? Am I a servant who goes where God leads me? Am I someone who, without a second thought gives a cup of water, new clothing, my best coat, my car to someone in need? Or am I a person who makes myself feel better by saying, “I am willing to go wherever God tells me to go, and give whatever He tells me to give,” but never hears Him telling me to do anything?
This is an important question because, according to Jesus in Matthew 25, it’s a big deal. The final judgment we all face will be a time of separating the goats from the sheep. I’m going for the sheep. What about you?