“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” Matthew 25:40
When it comes to service, there are a lot of questions that we have, but don’t usually get answered. Am I serving enough? Is there a quota I’m supposed to meet as a Christian? How do I know when I’m doing a good enough job? How do I know who I am supposed to serve? These are questions that most of us think about, but don’t really get answers to. Some of this confusion can actually be fueled by a misunderstanding of some of the Scriptures concerning service. Take some time right now to read Matthew 25: 31-46. This passage about the sheep and the goats is referenced very frequently when talking about Christian service, but it is sometimes applied in a detrimental way. The King, which is a reference to God, is talking to the “righteous” ones after He has separated them from the “unrighteous” ones. He talks about all the good things that they did to the “least of these” while on earth. It’s easy for a Christian to look at this and think that they have to do all these good works in order to
be declared righteous and get the kingdom of heaven. Equally as dangerous, it can be used as a “this is what you needto do as a Christian” message. There’s also the focus on finding the “least of these” in your life and making sure you’re serving them, as if your very salvation depends on it. Turning this passage and the whole idea of Christian service into a message of Law is a real tragedy, because both are in actuality a prime example of the Gospel at work.
If we take a look at the Matthew 25 passage again, the order of events is key. First, the people are separated into those inheriting the Kingdom and those who have
rejected God. This separation occurs not based on good deeds, but is dependent on whether or not the person has a relationship with Jesus Christ. The talk of actions and service comes after this separation. This is crucial because the ones the King is commending for doing good deeds are those who are being saved through Jesus Christ. It’s not that the “righteous” ones always served their brothers perfectly, but the fact that their sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ and God
remembers them no more. With those sins gone, all that is left are those times when they did share the love of Christ with those around them. Even these actions are not a testament to their holiness, but to the fact that Christ has redeemed them and freed them to serve others.
Because of Christ, there is no longer pressure to make sure your good deeds outweigh your bad, your service hours outnumber your mistakes or your good intentions surpass your shortcomings. You will not be one of the righteous ones in Matthew 25 because you served the “least of these,” but because you know that you need
Jesus and His grace. You do not need to worry about trying to figure out who in your life is the “least of these.” Instead, spend your time serving whoever God puts in your path. When you hear of someone with a need, that is who you are meant to be serving. Praise God that because of Jesus, service really is that simple.
Starter: God, we praise You that You will look on us with mercy because of Jesus, regardless of the deeds that we have done. We are sorry for the times when we try to turn service into a complicated formula of finding the right people to serve, spending the proper amount of time, or traveling the needed distance. Thank You for freeing us for lives of service to those around us in order to spread Your love and message of salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen!