READ: Matthew 25:31-46
THINK: This judgment described in this passage likely occurs after the tribulation period (see article on The Great Tribulation, p. 1322) and Christ's physical return to earth, but before the beginning of His earthly reign. Its purpose will be to determine who is allowed to be part of God's kingdom and who will not. Of all the parables, analogies and illustrative stories Jesus uses to describe God's kingdom and the end times, this is one of the few that describes what will take place "on that day" (cf. 7:22)--when Christ actually judges individuals for their time on earth and pronounces their eternal destiny. This account of end-time judgment emphasizes how Jesus expects His followers to respond to people who are hurting or in need (see articles on Caring for the Poor and Disadvantaged, p. 1180.)
RESPOND: According to this passage, what is one of the primary criteria of God's judgment of people--both those who know Him and those who don't? Who are "the least of these" (vv. 40, 45)? Although good works cannot save us, all accounts of judgment described in the Bible indicate that our actions and responses to opportunities on earth will affect our reward or punishment. Why are acts of compassion so important to God (vv. 35-46)? In what way are we doing something for Jesus himself when we meet others' practical needs? Even those who did the right thing were seemingly oblivious to when they acted with compassion. What does this reveal about their character and way of life?
PRAY: Ask God to keep you constantly aware of those around you who are hurting or in need. Thank Jesus for the opportunity to serve Him in practical ways by showing active compassion to others.
ACT: Make a deliberate effort to show kindness and active compassion to people who could use help or a friend and whom others tend to overlook. Refer to the article on Campus Missions Commitment to Serve, p. 1276, and to the practical tips on finding ways to serve, pp. 2275--2278.)
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