Jesus said that He would one day divide the just from the unjust, and part of that dividing has to do with our response to those in need.
Jesus said, “insomuch as you did it not unto one of the least of these my brethren, you did it not unto me.”
When we shut compassion out of our hearts for people in need around us, Jesus says He will divide us as goats from the sheep.
You would not think this to be a problem in our country. We have social assistance programs, and it’s not uncommon to hear a heart-warming story of how a community came together to help someone in need.
Yet, for some, there is no help.
I know of someone who lost their job due to Coronavirus cutbacks, and it has been interesting for this person to observe the response of people around them. This person has children and a spouse, but this spouse has a very modest income—too modest to support even the most basic of lifestyles.
This person does not feel entitled to the help of others, and never wants to guilt anyone, but they also know that they have always done what they could for others, even when they had little. This person is a Christian, so they cannot help but think of the parable of the sheep and the goats.
One said, “download an app on your phone, and I’ll send you some money.” The person in need did not have a new cell phone, so they could not download the app. No further mention of help was made, yet on more than one occasion there was talk of money spent on improving their own living situation, without regard to how that would make the person in need feel.
One heard that the person in need was in trouble but went to someone else for advice—not money or a solution—just advice. The person in need does not trust this goat with their problems, due to a history of exploiting their pain for selfish reasons. When the person in need failed to open up to the goat, the goat attacked out of jealousy, walked out of the person in need’s life, and to this day acts like the person in need is the one to blame for the failed relationship and proceeds to tell others that this person in need is not a real Christian; if they were, they would not be living in poverty.
Another offered some words of condolence, then never passed an occasion to brag about the good things they did for their kids, some new thing they just bought, or the extravagances they were having with their own family.
Others said nothing and did nothing.
There were some who helped. Clothing was purchased for the children before winter came. Food was brought to the house. An unexpected donation was made, for no reason, just when the last dollar was spent on rent.
Others offered prayers and reminded this person that sometimes suffering is unavoidable, but this life is short and Jesus is good.
God is good, and this person in need trusts in Him. There is no money left, and though this person tries to find work, there is little to be found.
Though this person trusts in the Lord and is thankful for the few who have helped, the callousness of people is somewhat astounding.
We do live in a land of abundance, but those with abundance keep it for themselves. Maybe they are hardened by robbery of taxation, not considering that those who try to live a godly life do not get the benefits our government offers. These are for immigrants and single mothers, not struggling families.
Some might feign help, but when they cannot help on their terms or to receive praise and leverage over the person in need, they won’t.
Others won’t even take a second thought as they enjoy their lives of decadence and openly brag about it to the poor.
Others trust in the Lord, but offer callous words that do not comfort, but only bewilder and make the person in need feel ashamed.
Lord, have mercy on the goats and soften their hard hearts. The family they rejected would have done anything for any one of them if they were able, and in-fact, they did a time or two in their own small ways.
This world is taking a turn for the worse, or so it seems, and even the wicked will find themselves “casting their idols of silver and their idols of gold to the moles and to the bats.”
No wealth will save them, especially when they knew that others were in need and they did nothing.
The Lord does indeed preserve those who trust in Him, and He will preserve this person and their family also. I have faith in this.
Take this as an object lesson: Don’t be a goat.
This life is hard for many, and many people are in poverty right now. Yes, even United States poverty is wealth, but we have certain standards here too. You have to have a car. You have to have running water and electricity. You have to have a roof over your head that meets certain health standards—especially if you have kids. And if a woman in need stays with a spouse who cannot support the family, she gets little to no help from the government.
This standard might change if our nation continues to decline, and we might indeed be able to say, “if you have food and clothing, be content.”
In those days, the Lord will provide. In those days, many will indeed suffer—either as goats or as faithful servants who suffer for the name of Jesus.
However, if we must suffer, let it be for well doing, not because of sin.
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 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.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.