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Works of mercy and judgement

Read: Matthew 25:31-45

The final teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew have to do with being accountable and prepared for judgment.  In chapter 25 we have the parable of the ten virgins waiting to meet the bridegroom, the parable of the master and the three stewards and the metaphor of the sheep and the goats?

But what, in practice, does it mean to ‘watch’ (25:13), to ‘gain more’ (25:20,22) and be a sheep rather than a goat (25:33)?

The final metaphor makes it very practical.   Jesus is granular in prescribing the works of mercy that we should be engaged in as we prepare to meet him. We should:

  • feed the hungry
  • give drink to the thirsty
  • offer hospitality to strangers
  • clothe those needing clothes
  • look after the sick
  • visit the prisoners

The text is dramatically clear both positively and negatively.  Positively, when we perform these works of mercy towards someone, it is as if we serving Jesus himself.  Negatively, to not not engage in these works of mercy separates us out as unprepared virgins, as poor stewards and as goats that come under judgment.

Look up these additional verses for these works of mercy: (Isaiah 58:6-10)(Ezekiel 18:5-9)(Proverbs 22:9)(Hebrews 13:1-3).

A prayer: Lord guard my heart from disregard, selfishness, indifference and cynicism.  Show me the works of mercy that you would have me do and grant me the virtue of compassion to perform them.

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