Monday, November 14, 2011

Character test

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 25:31-46

TO CHEW ON: "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'" Matthew 25:40

In this vignette from His teaching on the Mount of Olives, Jesus paints a picture of the way things really are. He does it by describing two types of reactions to the poor and needy.

Some things that snag my attention in His parable:

1. The people Jesus talks about are definitely character testers—the hungry and thirsty (who must be losers if they can't even earn enough to feed themselves, right?), the outsiders and poorly dressed (identifying with them will surely spoil my cool image), the ill (who are also probably contagious), and the prisoners (they deserve their sorry state, don't they?).

2. The "righteous" who respond with compassion to the above, do so with no ulterior motives. Their kindnesses are delivered with no secret hope for points. In fact, they seem unaware of the connection between their actions in this life and their eternal destiny.

3. The "unrighteous" are similarly unaware that their reactions have been a test, which they have failed because of their hard-heartedness.

We will have no such excuse. For us this test is open-book. The Bible outlines in plain words the problem: the "hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, prisoner," and the solution—responding to them and their needs with soft hearts: "Inasmuch as you did it (Matthew 25:40) or did not do it (Matthew 25:45) to the least of these, you did/did not do it to Me." 

 Even though we know this, do we see "Jesus" in the needy people around us? Do we respond to them as if they truly were Him?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please open my eyes to see You in the people around me. I need a softer, more responsive heart. Amen.

MORE: A thought

"Good works do not produce good character; good character produces good works" - J. Lyle Story from the notes on Matthew, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1337.

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