And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will people from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left…And (those on his left) will answer, “Lord when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not take care of you?” then he will answer then, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” (Matthew 25:31-33, 44-45).
I encourage you to read all of Matthew 24:31-46. It is the lectionary reading for today, New Year’s Eve, or Watch Night.
This was the foundational scripture for the work we did at the Robeson County Church and Community Center in one off the most poverty-stricken counties in the nation. I loved my work there. Everyday when I got home after a day’s work, I knew beyond a doubt that we, The RCCCC, had made a positive difference in someone’s life. It was a good feeling.
This reading from Matthew is the place where Jesus talks about the final judgment, and how the sheep will be separated from the goats. And he says nothing about how one believes, or who one loves or what faith one claims. The judgment appears to be based on whether or not one is kind to others.
Now most of us who read these words are good Christians, loving the Lord, and doing what we can for other folks who need help. I think most all of us can name times that we fed hungry people, or gave clothing to those who were in need, or visited someone who was sick or even visited someone in prison. We can all recall times when we welcomed a stranger, or helped put someone at ease. And no doubt we have done all of these things. These are just the things we do as Christians, as members of the Body of Christ on earth – that is, the Church. I mean, we take offerings for the needy do we not? And did Centenary not freely feed the neighborhood after the hurricane? Do we not support students from Oaks Road going to Camp Don Lee? And do we not provide books for them to take home and keep? And I know that I drop a few dollars in the Red Kettle outside Belk’s to help those in need.
So, as you read these words on New Year’s Eve, take a moment to recall some of the times you can recall when you have done these things Most of us can name quite a few times, can’t we? And maybe we feel pretty good about ourselves.
Now…think about when you have not? When have I failed to do these things for someone in need? When have I turned away from the homeless or the helpless or the hungry? When have I failed to do a kindness for someone in need, whoever that person may be? For in truth, Jesus says, that person is Jesus Christ himself.
As we ponder our resolutions for 2021, let’s try to remember this gospel lesson, and keep in mind that in the end, it may all come down to kindness.
No more let sins and sorrow grow, nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.
Pastor Rachel Moser