Wednesday, May 8
Three stories of separation
Scripture: 2 Samuel 15-16, Psalm 32, Matthew 25
Jesus tells three stories in Matthew 25, all of them about the final judgment. In all of them there is a separation based upon what people have done.
In the story of the ten virgins at the wedding, half of them came prepared and were ready when the groom arrived, and “those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut.” The other half who weren’t ready were left out.
In the story of the three servants entrusted with large sums of the master’s money, two of them invested and made a profit and were rewarded with praise, favor and greater responsibility. But one of them was afraid, did nothing, and lost what he had and was rejected.
In the story of the separation of the sheep and goats, the sheep were welcomed in God’s kingdom and eternal life because they had shown Jesus kindness by caring for the poor, sick and needy. The goats were rejected and sent to eternal punishment for precisely the opposite: they had failed to show Jesus kindness when they saw the poor, sick and needy.
While each story has a different emphasis (readiness, use what God’s given you, care for the needy), they all share this in common: not everyone gets in and that is based on what you do or don’t do.
How does this square with a gospel of grace—we are saved by grace, not our works? Answer: grace results in life change. Grace produces readiness, stewardship and care for the poor. Grace is not the opposite of good works; grace is the motivation and source of good works.
1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
First, because there is a final judgment, a separation coming, I want to warn people to be on the right side of that. Eternal life and eternal punishment are at stake. God has provided a way to life—I want to let people know!
Second, we make grace sound like it doesn’t matter what we do. These three stories dispute that. One of grace’s effects is that we work harder. What we do matters. I’m not working to earn God’s favor, but I’m working because He has shown His favor. Grace and gratitude come from the same Greek root. Recipients of grace are so grateful that they want to please the Lord.
Prayer: Today Lord, I want to give my best to You and others because You have given Your best to me. I’m grateful for Your grace, and want my life to show it.