Matthew 25.31-46 is not in other Gospels, which I believe magnifies the power of the passage more. When a Gospel writer includes an untold story, it’s like unpacking a new truth of Christ. Certainly this story reveals a powerful truth. The truth is that people will be separated based on how they served Christ in life. He’ll say:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me. . . .
I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me. (The Message)
This Scripture came back to me after preparing for Impact Appalachia. The Pentecostal Church of God National Missions department works with Impact Student Ministries to deliver Christmas gifts to some of the poorest counties in the U.S.A., found along the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia.Schools open their doors for a Saturday morning gathering of families.
Clothes, gifts, bicycles, and more are given out in a carnival-like setting. The children are led in games and songs, and then led into the true Christmas Story.Lives are impacted forever. As our leader Mike said this year, “We’re re-writing history for some of these families!” It’s amazing to see, especially here in our own country.
I shared this Scripture with Mateo and Cruz on Friday night, after they had worked all day preparing for the Appalachian Outreach. I hoped to give them perspective for the Saturday outreach. After I shared Christ’s words, I asked if they understood. Mateo replied, “No we haven’t visited anyone in prison.” I explained that he might visit someone in prison someday. What is important is that when they see the faces of all of the children who need clothes and food, they see the face of Christ.
We often look at this Scripture and feel limited because of our circumstances or stage in life. Mateo certainly felt inadequate because he had never visited anyone in prison. However, the decision isn’t his to make. As a protective parent, I realize that Mateo might be a little young for prison ministry. In the same way, God understands our station in life and takes into account our abilities and our spirit.
Jesus is not telling us that we have to lead a ministry in the Church or successfully bring about world peace. He’s just asking us to be involved, to participate. In Matthew 10.41-42 Jesus says,
This is a large work I've called you into, but don't be overwhelmed by it. It's best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won't lose out on a thing.
Again, He sees our station in life and knows our limitations. However, He’s impressed with what we do, even if it seems small to us. There will be a reward as we simply give out of love. We may or may not be see instant results, but we will impact souls with the love of God. Ultimately, the reward is that we give to Christ Himself!