For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:35-36.
In context this passage spoken by Jesus Christ concludes the rebuke to the religiously minded self righteous (Mt 23), often termed the ‘Seven Woes’, and the parables of the Ten Virgins and Talents. The latter outline God’s expectations of us. The former reveal we are woefully misguided.
Jesus points to the inner condition of many who proclaim to serve God. More often than not it is to receive praise from others (Mt 23:5). Any service given is minimal compared to what is taken (Mt 23:23). People act righteous on the outside. They attend synagogues (churches) and study scripture (Bible), however, in reality they are heartless and filled with pride rather than sacrificial love (Mt 23:27).
The verdict is scathing. A brood of vipers and snakes destined for hell. The Messiah’s words are terrifying. Quite possibly the most condemning of all of Jesus’ sermons, He starts to unveil what is important to God rather than to us. What matters most. How we should be living and where we find the real disciples and true children of God.
We discover them hard at work in the servitude and care of others. Hearts in motion – love in action. These people are righteous in God’s eyes. Ironically they will be completely oblivious to it, they will not even know they are doing it for God (Mt 25:37). They help others because they care. Not to be seen nor to receive praise or to impress. No. Simply because they have hearts that work.
Recently whilst training as a nurse I witnessed the servant hearts of those who care for others. People who look after the aged. Cleaning their bodily wastes, brushing their hair, shaving their faces, clothing them, washing them, caring for them when they are sick. Amazing people who are generally paid minimum wage. Their work is not done for fame or fortune.
The greater populace has no idea of what they do. There is little glamour in wiping up some poor soul’s excrement. People do not receive Doctorates for hand feeding a person with aggressive Parkinson’s disease. Nor are they honoured for showering an old man who has suffered a stroke and can no longer do so himself.
Yet, these servants are amongst the most highly esteemed in Heaven (Mt 23:11). Tears rolled down my cheeks as I witnessed those who truly care. As one middle aged woman seated an elderly lady, she leant forward and clasped her patient’s face in her hands and kissed her forehead. She did not need to do this. It is not part of the job description. You will not find such action in the roles and responsibilities of professional aid. It is a kiss given by someone who actually cares and is able to love another person, even though they are not part of their immediate family. This is Love. And it is RARE.
Such compassion and commitment I have seldom seen in Pastors, Priests, or Preachers. This is the religion that God deems as correct. Caring for widows in their distress. Love covering over a multitude of sins. Ironically not a sermon was in sight. You do not need one. God is standing amongst this work and He is well pleased.
When you meet God, will He say to you… “You fed, cleaned, washed, dressed and cared for me” or, as Jesus did with the religious leaders, will He classify you as a brood of vipers or those who swallow camels whilst giving gnats?
When the Christ says repent, He means render your heart to God and change your ways. Learn to Love. Love in action not simply in words(1 John 3:18). In doing so you may have to deny your selfish nature. However, with God – all things are possible.