“And the King will say, I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me” (Matthew 25:40, NLT).
In Matthew 25 Jesus told His disciples several object lessons when asked by them when the end of the world would come.
In one object lesson recorded in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus referred to the time when He, the Coming King, will return to Earth to judge all nations.
Jesus told His disciples that on that judgement day, the King will separate all people into two groups in much the same way a shepherd separates sheep from goats.
He will reward those on his right with co-ownership of his Kingdom because during their lives on Earth they were benevolent toward other people in need. He will send those on his left into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels because during their lives on Earth they were not benevolent toward other people in need.
So, the moral of the story was that you should help disenfranchised and desperate people because helping them is the same as helping the King, and not helping them is the same as not helping the King.
And, the message we should take from this somewhat ominous story is that serving God is not just a state of mind–it’s something you do!
Here’s what I mean…
The amazing thing about the righteous ones was that they didn’t know they were performing these good deeds or that they would receive a heavenly reward—they just did it because they were the loyal subjects of the King and wanted to please Him.
And the identifying characteristic of the unrighteous ones was that they just didn’t! They were repugnant to the King because they didn’t do anything to help those in need.
They were so self-referenced that they weren’t aware or didn’t care! And so they had no desire to serve or please the King.
So, this story mitigates some of the tension between faith and works because it illustrates that faith that does not result in works is not saving faith (James 2:14-26).
But those who focus on the reality of God’s invisible Kingdom by faith begin to live out their future life in the present by works without even knowing they are doing it—they just do it!