Sunday, May 1, 2016

Day 57: Matthew 25:31-46 & Psalm 58 - What Will Jesus Say to You on Judgment Day?

Today's Reading: Matthew 25:31-46 & Psalm 58

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What Will Jesus Say to You on Judgment Day?

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. . .

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  - Matthew 24:34 & 41

Have you thought much about what Jesus will actually say to you on Judgment Day and why? Everyone will hear Jesus say either, "Come . . . inherit the kingdom" or "Depart from me . . . into the eternal fire." Earlier in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus taught that many who call Him "Lord, Lord" and who do many things in His name will nevertheless be told to depart from Him forever (Matt. 7:21-23). 

In today's passage, Jesus makes it clear that the way we treat others will be a key factor in what He says to us. This is not because we earn salvation by being generous to the poor. In fact, many people have used this passage to teach a version of salvation by good works to the poor, am idea common in the social gospel and liberation theology movements. These movements both teach a kind of Christian socialism. But these teachings miss the point of the Gospel itself and what Jesus is teaching here.

It is vital that we not miss the words "my brothers" here in verse 40. These words make it clear that Jesus is teaching about the love we show to one another within the body of Christ. Jesus said the world would know that we are His disciples by the love we have for another (John 13:35). And John asks us, "But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" (1 John 3:17) 

So, in the context of the teaching of the rest of Scripture, today's passage is teaching us that the reality of our salvation is to be judged by the compassion we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering. If we can close our hearts to fellow Christians in need, refusing to feed them, clothe them, visit them or encourage them, then we have cause to question the reality of our salvation.

Those whose lives have been transformed by the grace of God and who have the love of God dwelling in their hearts will have compassion on those in need, especially those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. So, if you claim the name of Christ and hope to hear Him say "come" and not "depart" on that day, then "as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10)

Prayer Based on Psalm 58:

Imprecatory Psalms are those which ask God to strike down evil people and the enemies of God's people. These psalms can be especially problematic for believers because we are called to love our enemies, and so it can seem strange to be praying for their downfall if we're also trying to love them. But today's psalm focuses on the truth that this world is often run by people who have no regard for the truth or for righteousness. God care about issues of justice and righteousness in this world, and we should pray for the violent evil oppressors of God's people to be cast down.

The Pray All the Psalms blog by Pastor Rory McClure in England has a good prayer for Psalm 58:

O Lord, do all the rulers and opinion makers of our
            nation indeed speak justly?
            Do they all judge uprightly among us?
   No, in their hearts many devise injustice,
            and their hands mete out violence on the earth.
   Even from birth the wicked go astray;
            from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.
   Their venomous lies are like the venom of a snake,
            like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
    that will not heed the tune of the charmer,
            however skillful the enchanter may be.
   People are poisoned by these lies and do not care,
            they only hear what they want to believe,
            their ears are closed to truth that disturbs. 
   May their ears be opened and ours too,
            may all our tongues be loosened,
            and may we speak the truth plainly. . . [MORE]  

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