Jump Start # 2551
Matthew 25:42-43 “For I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick and in prison, and you did not visit Me.”
Our verse today comes from the judgment parables of Matthew 25. Three pictures of the Lord coming to judge. Our verse is the exact opposite of what was said prior to this. In that section, food, drink, clothing, invitation and help came. But here, it’s just the opposite. The running thought through this is negative. You did nothing. You gave nothing. You helped in no way. You left me in the same condition as you found me.
The Lord shows that in the way we treat each other, is the way we treat Him. Knowing it was the Lord, people would step up, go out of their way and be kind and generous. But when it’s just one of us, we can walk away and not think a thing about that. We can close our eyes and our hearts and not be bothered by guilt at night.
Two immediate thoughts are implied here:
First, there was knowledge of the need. Had the person been unaware, then the Lord may have given him a pass. How can we help someone when we are not aware of the need. Sometimes this happens among brethren. Someone is in and out of the hospital without telling anyone. No one knew. What is really bad is when that person gets upset because no one came to visit. How can they visit when they are not aware you are in the hospital? Let folks know. Don’t be so tight lipped about these things. People can pray. People can be open arms to help you. But for that to happen, they have to know.
Second, there was a resource available to help. I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. Implied in that is the idea that a person could have given food, but chose not to. Had both people been hungry, then one can’t help the other. I was thirsty, implies the availability of drink to give to someone. It takes both good hearts and the resources to help someone. A good heart without the resources doesn’t do much good. Having the resources but not a good heart still leaves on hungry and thirsty.
Now, the thought occurs: if someone knew of a person’s needs and they had the resources to help out, why wouldn’t they? Why would someone not give food to someone that was hungry? Before we explore that, so often running through our minds are the guys sitting at an intersection with a cardboard sign, “Will work for food. God bless you.” Most aren’t wanting to work, they just want cash. Tax free for doing nothing. Panhandlers, con artist and swindlers have hurt this passage. We are reluctant to give because we are not sure if they are truly hungry. It’s amazing to me that they always have a cardboard sign, some how they had a Sharpie to write on and the message is basically always the same. That’s seems odd in my book. News documentaries have followed some of these folks to expensive homes and high end automobiles. They were stealing, not begging.
I sense in this passage a knowledge of either the situation or the person in need. The good Samaritan didn’t know the hurt man on the road, but he could tell that his needs were genuine. Among us are co-workers, neighbors and brethren that we interact with. We know them. When one of them has a need, that’s when our passage comes to mind.
Now, why wouldn’t someone help out another?
First, he doesn’t care. His heart is not right. He doesn’t love as God wants him to. Such a person is often selfish and tight with his money. He fails to understand how generous God is with us. A need is known. A need is expressed. Yet this person ignores such things.
Second, he feels that this opens the door for continuing requests. Once you help one, you have to help them all, someone boastfully told me. But each person can do their part. Each person can help some.
Third, he fails to understand that his closed heart is a reflection of his faith in God. Faith is an action word. It is to be demonstrated and shown. A person can claim to love others, but by his actions he will really show if that is true or not.
Fourth, he fails to understand that by the way he treated others, God will judge him. This person could give all the right answers on a doctrinal test, but he is flunking out when it comes to letting your light shine. Helping others shows Jesus. We can’t be wrong with each other and right with God. That never works.
Now, stretch these thoughts a bit more. Aside from physically helping someone with food, water, clothing and shelter, what about other needs? Here is someone who needs encouragement but you don’t give it. You could, but you don’t. Maybe you think it’s not your job. Maybe you think that’s why we have a preacher. Whatever the reason, you pass by a broken heart that could use some healing.
Maybe it’s someone who could use a friend. He sits alone on a Sunday morning in worship. He seems alone. You notice. You could sit with him. You could invite him out after services. You could try to be a friend. But you don’t. You already have friends. You don’t need any more friends. So, you pass by and leave him in his loneliness.
Maybe it’s someone who needs some further teaching. He said something in class. You could tell he still had more questions and wasn’t real clear about what the teacher said. You noticed. You could explain things to him. You could get with him and have a short Bible study about that topic. You could, but that’s why we have preachers, you tell yourself. You could, but I wasn’t the teacher, you tell yourself. You noticed someone confused, but you didn’t do anything.
Don’t dismiss the Lord’s words to just food, water and clothing. I don’t know anyone that needs clothes. I don’t know anyone who is thirsty. We have drinking fountains in the church building. So, we skip right pass these passages without any thought. It’s time to put some thought there. What about these things? What about being a Titus to a depressed Paul? What about being a Prisca and Aquila who risked their necks for Paul? What about being one of the friends who carried the crippled man to Jesus and lowered him through the roof?
So many things to do. So many people to help. Nothing, is a word that should never be said of us. He did nothing is shameful and insulting. So many ways and so many people to help—open our eyes Lord that we may see.