Friday, March 24, 2023

The Vision (3.24.23): Lessons from the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46)


Note: Devtotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 25:31-46.

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left (Matthew 25:33).

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matthew 25:40).

In Matthew 25:31-46, Christ teaches about the Son of man’s coming at the end of the ages and illustrates this with an analogy of a Shepherd separating the sheep from the goats.

Here are at least four things we might learn from this teaching:

First, there is coming a day when Christ will return with power and great glory as our Great Shepherd King and men from all nations must give an account before him.

Second, those who are truly his sheep will be placed on his right hand and will be called blessed by him, heirs of God, and they will be given a glorious kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world.

Third, there will also be those goats who will be set on his left hand and told to depart to a place of everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Fourth, a key distinction between the sheep and the goats will be that the sheep give evidence that they have been justified by faith because of their love for the least of their brethren, and the goats will give evidence that they remain in their unregenerate state, dead in trespasses and sins, because of their indifference to the needs of Christ’s disciples even if they outwardly call him Lord.

As the apostle John said, “We know that we have passed from death unto life,  because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (1 John 3:14).

Let’s be clear about two other matters:

First, Christians are called to love and do good to all men. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. But we have a special duty toward our Christian brothers and sisters, especially those who are suffering for Christ.

As the apostle Paul said, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

Second, the sheep were not made righteous by caring for the least of these their brethren. They were not justified by works. And the goats were not made unrighteous by failing to care for the least of these. They were not condemned merely for lack of works.

Rather, their fruit or lack of fruit revealed the state of their hearts. Christ said, “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt 7:20).

Finally, we must ponder, Whose side will you be standing upon? Will we stand with the sheep or the goats? We offer this final exhortation: Stand with Christ. Side with Christ. And stand and side with his people.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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