Ways Christians Serve

KEY VERSE: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” —Matthew 25:40

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 25:31-46

IN THIS parable spoken by Jesus, these words of commendation are to those who inherit the kingdom of earth, and intrinsically express how they merit such a grand reward. With this parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus concluded his very descriptive reply to the disciples’ question about the signs of his return and second presence. The opening words, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory,” are a clear reference to their question, and his answer relates to the time of his kingdom, stating that then he shall sit upon the “throne of his glory.” Important also to this illustration is the fact that all nations, peoples of the earth, will be gathered before him.

It is well to guard against interpreting parables too literally. The peoples of the earth will not be gathered before the throne of Christ’s glory in the sense of all being assembled in one vast area and separated into two groups—the righteous and the wicked—and judged on how they have lived their lives now. The thought is, rather, that the people of the world, including all who have died and have then been brought forth in the resurrection, will be given an opportunity to be active in the work of Jesus’ kingdom. They will be invited to cooperate with the agencies of his rulership in the interest of restoring righteousness. Through this method of participation he will deal with them for uplifting development, with the view of determining their worthiness or unworthiness for everlasting life. This judgment will be made on how they perform during the one thousand years of his kingdom.

Other Scriptures clearly inform us that the judgment day will be a time when the world will learn righteousness. (Isa. 26:9) Those who persist in the ways of disobedience will not learn righteousness in that “land of uprightness,” nor will they “behold the majesty of the Lord.” (Isa. 26:10) Jesus represented these in his parable as goats.

The sheep class hear the king say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:34) This was the kingdom mentioned in Genesis 1:26-28. It is man’s dominion over the earth, a dominion that was lost because of sin. The ultimate purpose of Christ’s return and second presence is the restoration of man to life and to his lost dominion.

To the sheep class of the parable, the king said, “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (Matt. 25:35,36) The ‘sheep’ seem surprised at this, and ask when they had rendered all these good services. The king’s reply is, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”—vs. 40

These commended ones of the parable demonstrate their worthiness of inheriting the kingdom and its reward of life, by their loving interest and concern for those about them. Hunger, thirst, loneliness, nakedness, sickness, and imprisonment, symbolize a fairly complete cross section of human needs. The ‘sheep’ sense these needs of their fellows, and do what they can to help. They do this out of the goodness of their hearts, and because it is in harmony with the principles of righteousness, and not because it is necessarily expedient to their own welfare. They learn and practice the ways of love, God’s divine law for life, and at the end discover they are worthy of inheriting the lost dominion of earth.

The Prophet Isaiah wrote concerning the qualification of the great king of this parable, who, ruling and judging with his associates, will accomplish these changes in the hearts of men. “The Spirit of the Lord shall be upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. … With righteousness will he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.” (Isa. 11:2-5) The high principles and philanthropic spirit of his government will set the standard for the people, and those with a kindred response will qualify to inherit the kingdom prepared for mankind from the foundation of the world.

What a wonderful blessing from the Heavenly Father!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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