Saturday, January 24, 2015

How to inherit eternal life, part 15: Serving God by serving others

Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:30-32 NASB) 

"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 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; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' (Matthew 25:34-45 NASB)

The lawyer asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" and our Lord painted a word picture to help him understand. The one with the greatest need, in the most inconvenient place, who will interrupt our day and disrupt our plans is our neighbor, just as the ones we love and desire to help. Once we understand that we are to love the least convenient and most unlovely, and actually do something about it, then loving the lovely becomes even easier.

As we can see from the story of the Good Samaritan, even the most righteous among us have trouble doing the right thing. The priest didn't do it. The levite didn't do it. The truth is that, all too often, we don't do it, either. When we read this passage from Matthew, however, it puts it in perspective. When we refuse to love our unlovely neighbor, our inconvenient, difficult neighbor, we have refused to love our Lord, and He has some hard words to say about that decision. 


"To the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me."

Selah. Pause and consider.

That verse is a game-changer when it comes to loving the unlovely and inconvenient, isn't it? Loving the neighbor that is the most difficult to love is, admittedly, not easy. It's also not optional. When we love them and care for them, when we become a friend to them, however, our Lord says we have loved Him and cared for Him at the same time, so let us love for Jesus. Let us care for Jesus. Let us serve for Him, and by so doing, let us serve Him.