“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.’” (Matthew 25:37-40)
As we come to the end of the Liturgical year, our Lectionary readings help us to focus on the return of Christ and the end of the world. Jesus’ parable about the separation of the sheep and the goats helps us to prepare for that final day so that we may be ready for it. Jesus spoke this parable to allow His listeners and us to evaluate our lives as a way of ascertaining our standing before the Lord. Just because one can claim status as one of God’s chosen or one who has faith does not mean that the claim is valid. What Almighty God says about our status is more important than human words or promises.
Yet we can know we are in Christ by looking at the works our faith produces, works that bestow mercy, love and compassion on our fellow human beings. Although we know that we are saved by God’s grace through faith and not by our works, we can see that our works are still important. They are the outward indication of faith that is genuine. These works we do are done are not done for human honors and acclaim, to atone for sin, or to salve a guilty conscience as is the basis for good deeds that many do. Our deeds are not done to earn us salvation or merit. They are done because we are saved by grace. They are done out of love and thanksgiving for the Lord Jesus and what He has done for us. Therefore we gladly use our talents and gifts in the service of others that they may know the mercy of God alive in and through us.