Matthew 25:31-46 describes what many have called Jesus’ description of the last judgment. The sheep representing the righteous are separated from the goats representing the wicked, with the righteous on His right hand and the wicked on the left (see Matthew 25:33). Verse 34 (NIV) describes what all servants of the living God long to hear from the Master’s lips: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” To inherit God’s kingdom is our ultimate hope and longing.
Matthew 25:35-36, NIV, establishes the behavior of those who are saved by grace and those who are not. It illustrates the heart and hands of those who will inherit the kingdom of God. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Six areas of ministry for the community are described here: Feed the hungry, quench the thirst of the thirsty, care for the homeless or the stranger, clothe the naked, look after the sick, and visit the prisoners. When we do these things for the least among us, we do them for Christ himself (Matthew 25:40).
The Seventh-day Adventist Church, through Adventist Community Services (ACS) in North America and Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in the other parts of the world, is deeply involved in those six areas of ministries. We are the servants, the hands and the feet of Christ to minister to those in need. We are the heralds of hope and truth; instruments of His peace and love. Giving to those in need, loving the stranger, and caring for the poor, are commands that God gave His people in the Old Testament, as well (Leviticus 25:35; Deuteronomy 15:11, 10:18).
During this pandemic and a time when so many are crying for justice for black lives, and indeed all lives, and a deeper love for one another, the compassion ministry areas of Matthew 25 are needed more than ever before. The church as a collective body has a moral responsibility to rise to the occasion. Likewise, individually, members can find ways to express their love for Jesus through these ministries to serve those in need. Our calling, irrespective of denominational affiliation, is to do what Jesus would do in moments like these.
Ellen White wrote, “Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness. . . . Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish.
“How surprised and gladdened will be the lowly among the nations, and among the heathen, to hear from the lips of the Savior, ‘inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of these, My brethren, ye have done it unto Me!’”—The Desire of Ages, p. 638.
These days of the coronavirus pandemic and cries for justice everywhere, provide opportunities to serve the Master by caring for and looking after the marginalized, the sick, and the needy. May God give us discernment, creativity, and wisdom to rise to the occasion and minister to those in need until we hear from Him, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father”—Matthew 25:34, NIV.