35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
We often read these words and think of His instructions as physical--food, shelter, clothing--and indeed they are indicating provision for the physical life sustenance of others.
What image pops into your mind when we talk about preaching the gospel? A sermon in church perhaps? A Christian magazine article about the Good News? Going door to door and talking to others about salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord?
Let's take a deeper look at the meaning of these words with spiritual eyes. Let's see them with an eternal vision rather than just temporal.
Herein lies the gospel message in two forms: 1) the physical needs and 2) the spiritual needs.
So often we hear about and/or focus upon the physical needs of others. We reach out to those who are lacking with donations such as money, food and clothing. We provide work programs for the unemployed. We serve at soup kitchens. We give our used clothing, canned goods and toys to those less fortunate.
Those who are physically less fortunate come to mind very quickly. I don't know about you but my mailbox (both snail mail and email) are constantly full of requests for food, clothing and monetary donations. There is a huge need for ministry of all types in this area at home and abroad.
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
But, there is more....! How often to we think about the spiritual needs of others? We think about eternal life and internal peace. But how often do we consider the gospel message in terms of spiritual well being and provision?
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
There are those among us who need to hear THIS gospel message. The spiritual healing and life transforming side of the gospel. Those who are churched as well as unchurched. Those who don't know of His saving grace and His unconditional love. Those who have already received Christ as their Lord yet their walk with Him has gone astray. They may live in abundance physically but they are struggling spiritually with carnality yet claim to know the truth of our Savior. They are not living the abundant life. Not walking in the His light but still in bondage to darkness.
We have a mission field in our neighborhoods, in our churches, in our communities! Right in our own backyard. so to speak. Hurting, needy people who need to know the depth of the love of our Lord and the power of His Spirit. Even those of us with a roof over our head, food in our bellies and clothes on our backs. We may not be physically deprived but we are suffering spiritually in many ways.
In an increasingly darkening world, we all need His Living Water and the Bread of Life to sustain us daily.
We need to be clothed in His righteousness to discover His grace and be able to extend it to others so they, too, can be clothed in righteousness.
We need to extend hospitality in our churches, in our homes and in our hearts as a beacon of hope and comfort, a safe haven. Without judgment.
We need to bear one another's burdens, pray for one another without ceasing, repent, speak life to one another.
We need to provide ministry to truly set the captives free by teaching and preaching truth with boldness. We must die to self daily to be made new again and again. Hearts will be made new. Chains of bondage will be broken. Lives will be healed.
This message is the whole Gospel of Jesus the Christ. This gospel is how we change the world and prepare a people for the coming Day of the Lord!
45 “And He will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
It is not enough to say "yes" to His gift of grace. We cannot reject His gift of transformation, of healing, and spiritual renewal. We must say 'yes' to ALL of His ways and be changed from the inside out. It is a package deal!
Be a witness for the WHOLE GOSPEL MESSAGE. Live holy lives. Profess His truth. Share your testimony and your grace with others. Let us ALL be ready for the return of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Let no one be left behind but lead everyone down the road to eternal life!