What is Expected of Christians?
Matthew 25 1-46 (the entire chapter), represents to believers (in Christ) what we He expects from us.
This chapter is amazing, because it explicitly tells of three unique concepts about what Christ asks of us as believers here on earth.
- BE READY: First he says that while the master is away you are to remain ready for his return. (Parable of the ten virgins)
- USING RESOURCES: Next he tells us that while he is away he is expecting us to use the resources he has given us to further his kingdom. (Parable of the Talents)
- WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THEM: And lastly we are to be judged based on what we did with those resources. (The Sheep and the Goats)
He gives these stories to a specific group of people - I believe the group of people are those who call themselves Christians. The reason I say that all three are written to Christians, is that he uses very intimate relationships to illustrate these three points - the first is the bridegroom relationship to a group of brides; the next is a master and his servants (I think of them as a master of the household and the servants who stay in the house); and finally we have God and his relationship to his people (as a Shepherd and his sheep). The last story of the Shepherd also calls on "All nations" and has the sense of a grander judgement day - yet the judgement on man is not lost in meaning as this also applies to "so called" Christians. For I believe there are many who say they are "Christian" or belong to the "group" of believers who will some day hear these words "I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers" (Matthew 7:21). Please read my other article on "How you know you are a Christian" for more on this topic.
Meanwhile, lets get back to what God wants us to do - our responsibilities here on earth (the meaning of life).
GOD uses the first story (Matthew 25:1-13) to say "be ready for my return" which will be a day of celebration, with pure joy and happiness. Alternatively, this is a call to be ready for judgment day. Will this day be joyous or condemning? That is up to you. Are you prepared? He (the bridegroom) tells the 10 virgins to be ready for his return (doesn't really matter what he's doing, but he's away from them for a while). They are to have their "oil" in their lamps, so that they are ready for the journey with him. He doesn't tell the virgins when he'll be back, but only to be ready at all times. 5 of the virgins are ready with oil and 5 are not. He comes back in the middle of the night; and the five unprepared virgins don't have any time to go to the store and buy oil. These unprepared virgins ask the five others to share their oil - and they say NO, else they would not have enough for themselves. After the foolish unprepared virgins return from their quest to find the oil and plead for the bridegroom to open the door, it is too late and the bridegroom responds "Truly I tell you, I don't know you" - (Humm, this sounds familiar - we just saw this in Matt 7:21).
The next story is about a master and his servants and what the master expects his servants to do with the resources given to them. He gives them resources in accordance with their abilities, and expects them to put it to good use and "earn" more for the good of the master. He gives 5 bags of gold to one man, 2 gold bags to the second man, and the third man receives 1 gold bag. He expects them (this is actually never explicitly stated in the scripture, but understood, but this also may bring out a good point, is that we already know what is expected of ourselves, but we often times choose to plead ignorant) to invest it while he's away and to gain more gold for the master. The first two men earn double the amount given to them and the master was happy with them. The third man, however does not, and replies to the master by saying "I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you." At first, I thought "that is a smart man" - he took the money and rather than risk it to gain more, he buries it so that he can give it back to his master - but apparently he and I are wrong, and not by a little, but by a LOT! The master tells him "You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed. Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. ... Throw the worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Oops! Weeping and Gnashing is a sign of hell! Not good! He uses this story as an analogy of bags of gold and investment to explain that we are to be good stewards of His resources and to use the resources to further his kingdom - Basically the great commission (Matt 28:19,20), where we are called to spread the gospel and Gods word throughout the world.
Ok, so the final story (Matth 25:31-46) is absolutely amazing to me - he tells us exactly what He expects of us and how are are going to be judged - it is no longer a "story" as an analogy with the bags of gold, but rather real life examples of what he expects us to do with our resources. In summary this is what he expects:
- Feed the hungry
- Invite the stranger or homeless person into your home/life
- Cloth those needing clothing
- Look after the sick
- Visit those in prison
The goal of all these are to show others God's love and to show them hope in God. Help them to put their trust in God. We are to show Gods love to them the same way we experienced Gods love to us.
The rewards or consequences for doing (or not) what he asks is: "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life" (Matthew 25 45,46).
Finally related to Matthew 25 is the following verses:
(1 Corinthians 3:10-15) 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each persons work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be savedeven though only as one escaping through the flames.
(James 1:22) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
(James 2:14-25) - "...Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, Go in peace; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."
It is up to you to seek God and examine your heart as to whether you will hear God say to you "I never knew you" or "Well done, good and faithful servant!". Fire/Hell or Joy/Heaven. It is up to you.
I'd like to make one final point, and that is that God has called us to do all kinds of work according to our ability (ie, some are doctors, teachers, lawyers..etc) and he wants us to do his will in all these areas of life - we are the body of Christ, and each part of the body is expected to do what God has gifted them to do. (see 1 Cor 12 for the diversity of the body of Christ) So if a homeless ministry is not your gifting, then perhaps visiting the elderly, or helping the widows, or donating your time/services in your field of expertise or money is what God would have you do. The important thing is whatever your do, do it in the "name of Jesus" not in your name lest you boast about how good you are. (Col 3:17).
May Gods blessings be upon you and may you do His will and not your own.
created: 2016-09-17 21:32:02