Faith in Christ Means We Are Focused
Matthew 25: 31- 46
This passage makes it clear. The foolish will be judged and removed from the wise; the wasteful and fearful will be separated from those who love and trust in Christ (Matt. 25:14-30). This parable is about the coming, final, inescapable Judgment! It is about evaluation and separation; the good are set apart from the bad! The faithful are rewarded; the unfaithful are damned. The wise are praised; the foolish are judged Matt. 25:1-46). Those who are in Christ will receive blessings, and those who willfully reject Him will be cursed! This is a harsh teaching; nonetheless, it is true, and it will happen (Rom. 3:23; 6:23)!
· Many people go to church and claim to be Christians. But, when it comes down to it, many are not living in the Spirit. Their faith is based on their identity-that they go to church-not that Christ has a hold on their lives (Rom. 8:9). These are the Christian "goats" who hang with the sheep, but they are pretenders and fakers who trust in themselves and not in the Lord. They are only concerned about their ideas and agendas. If all you see in life is yourself, your works, or your heritage, you may have a big, eternal problem leering at you besides just a lost focus!
· Sheep and goats: Both the sheep and the goats grazed together and were herded together and they were both used as food. The sheep gave clothing and the goats gave milk and cheese. At night, they were separated. The sheep needed the outdoors, for their fur kept them warm; the goats needed to be inside or they might freeze to death. Sheep were much more valuable to the Jews because of the necessity of the clothing they provided and the income from the sale of the wool. Sheep are the representation of God's chosen people (Ezek. 34; Matt. 10:16; 18:12). Do you realize who you are in Him? As His child, do you realize how much He loves you, how valuable you are?
· For I was hungry: This is ethics in action. Do we do as He says? Do we do as we say we do? Most people, who claim Christ as their Lord, do little to nothing in service to Christ! He is either LORD or lord! Yet, we will rationalize that we do serve Him, even though we do not. Jesus calls us on this! How do we demonstrate what we claim to believe? How are we to serve humanity with compassion without seeking a return? How do we see this as an eternal investment, not an earthly one? Jesus calls us to be radical in our service and mature in our attitude and faith!
· Kindness and stewardship as well as the pursuing of Truth happen when we are serving the Lord with what He gives us. It shows our love and unveils our possibilities and opportunities. When we ignore His call, we show our contempt and defilement.
· Authentic faith also means we are focused on what is important. We will not become consumed that a privately owned and secular store, such as Wal-Mart, decides not to say "Merry Christmas" while we ignore the poor, sick, and hungry around us (don't like it? Then don't shop there). Jesus did not go to the marketplaces of His day, making sure they had the correct greeting. He challenges us to make sure we have the right faith and actions, and this does not always mean what we think the "Christian Right" is or the opinions of the day, whether they are really right or not. It is all about being right in Him. As a pastor, I am amazed at the energy and resources some Christians put into their foolish and silly boycotts (sometimes they are needed though!) while they sit in a church next to someone in great need, know about it, but, not caring, they do nothing authentic or real with their faith (yes, get involved politically and socially but not to the detriment of the reality and precepts Christ has called us to-namely love, care, growth, service, and outreach to spur on the faith, maturity, character Fruit, etc. in both our lives and the lives of others.)!
· Authentic faith also means being honest to the precepts of Scripture, so we do not read in our viewpoints and agendas, but, rather take in His, both in context and truth. Then, we will not become consumed with trivialities and foolishnesses as the goats demonstrated. Nor do we succumb to or initiate "knee-jerk" reactions without careful investigation of actual truth. We do as good sheep are called to do-act in His Fruit and truth. Good sheep seek Truth--God's Truth-and do not claim their own truth or ideas to be God's.
Even in the mist of fear and woe, we are called to truth and to be faithful, for which we will receive commendation, victory, and security. We will receive our rewards and our proper place! We will see that all we went through in life had a purpose and a reason, and we will see that the people who benefited were the souls that were saved and the work that gave Him glory. We will see clearly what our life was about, and what it meant to Christ and to others. We will say, "Yes, authentic faith, even in opposition to oppression and struggle, was well worth it! I am glad I remained faithful!" Authentic faith means faithfulness, even when it is hard, is well worth it, as nothing else we do is greater that what we do for our Lord. Our works do not earn our salvation; His grace paid for that. But, why be ones who are foolish when we can be victorious, faithful sheep!
1. How do you feel knowing, as a person of faith, you will be rewarded by Christ Himself? How can this motivate you?
2. How can knowing that the faithful will be rewarded and the unfaithful will be damned help you to have more confidence in your growth and service?
3. What can you learn from this passage about being responsible to make sure you are pursuing real truth and focused on the right things?
4. How we serve and represent Christ will also be a factor in our Judgment (not salvation, but, rather rewards). How does this motivate you to grow further? Or, does it scare you?
5. How can this passage give you a sense of victory, hope, and comfort?
6. What are some things you have done which demonstrate your sincerity and heart?
7. Jesus calls us to be radical in our service, and mature in our attitude and faith! What does this mean to you?
8. How do love and kindness unveil the possibilities and opportunities Jesus gives? What happens when we do not do this? How can you make your life count for His glory?
9. What do you need to do in order to focus on how you can be more obedient with His call to the poor and oppressed?
10. How can the fact of Christ's eventual return give you confidence and help build your faith?