At the beginning of 2020, I picked a word to help me stay focused on my life’s purpose and goals: Intentional. With all the detours 2020 has taken, it’s been a real challenge to live up to that word. Haphazardly navigating through the immediate changes, demands, struggles and new-normals this year has presented, I’ve definitely been periodically distracted. Still, as I remember and ponder the word “intentional,” it has helped me refocus, stay grounded and keep the “main things” the main things.
Last week, Jen wrote that as God has revealed some truths to her, she has realized the importance of living intentionally. Her words jumped off the page and spoke ever-so-loudly to me. Have I gotten lost again in the screaming demands and not been intentional in the moment-by-moment of my life? The urgency, she wrote, is in reading and understanding the word of God, focusing on His Kingdom, and being ready for the coming of Jesus. As we commit to answer this urgency and live intentionally, we’ll not only have greater understanding of the word of God and be ready for the second coming of Jesus, but we will also complete the works God has prepared for us and fulfill His purpose in our lives.
This year, we’ve been exploring the parables Jesus taught in the series, “Eyes to See and Ears to Hear,” seeking to understand and apply the truths found therein. As we bring this series to a close, the last parable we’ll look at is the “Parable of the Sheep and Goats” found in Matthew 25:31-46:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. 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. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was 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, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.’ “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. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46
Because of our faith in God, we will perform outward signs of helping and serving others. Jesus affirmed this in the parable: as we serve others, we serve Him. We understand this as a fulfillment of the cardinal commandments – to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength; and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
James examines this very truth in his letter, writing, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:17-18). In other words, a heart surrendered to God and full of faith will always be revealed and proven by the things that person does.
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, declared God’s love has been poured into the hearts of believers, and in his second letter to the Corinthians, he states that the love of Christ compels us to act. In his letter to the Galatians, he teaches faith works by love, and the fruit – or the result of – our faith is the outward signs of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Finally, in his letter to Titus, Paul writes that some insist they know God, but their works oppose any knowledge of God, and would, in fact, deny God.
As we ponder the parables and look back through the paramount truths we’ve learned in this series, be encouraged to live out loud a life of faith! Let your faith work – to serve God as you serve others. Pray for eyes to see – to know – to understand, and ears to hear clearly and discern accurately what God is saying in His word and through His Spirit. Surrender fully to Him. Understand the urgency of these times. This is the day of salvation! And, live intentionally in each and every moment as your faith works by love – the love God has poured out in your heart and the love compelling you to act. Let your faith work today!
Holding Fast to Hope,