Scripture Focus: Matthew 25.44-46
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
11 Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. 12 The towns of Judah and the people of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they burn incense, but they will not help them at all when disaster strikes. 13 You, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns; and the altars you have set up to burn incense to that shameful god Baal are as many as the streets of Jerusalem.’
14 “Do not pray for this people or offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress.
Reflection: Wake-up Call
By John Tillman
The three stories of Matthew 25 are connected, presented in series with an intentional theme. Last January we wrote:
Matthew 25 is famous for the sheep and the goats parable. But really, the entire chapter is about people who shirked their responsibilities to themselves, to their master, and to others. The foolish virgins, the wicked servant, and the goats are a trinity of spiritual neglect.
The sin of neglect seems to be one that surprises each of the condemned groups and individuals in these stories. Pray that you may not be surprised.
During seminary days, while traveling on a ministry team on a long drive, someone suggested putting on a Keith Green album. The driver, a good friend, responded, “Oh good. I haven’t doubted my salvation in a while. Put it in.”
We all laughed but I will never forget it. Because, the truth was, and is, that we don’t often listen to music that challenges us. We tune in for encouragement. We don’t often listen to sermons that challenge us. We tune out words of conviction.
This is bad news for us because when we tune out the voices correcting us for long enough, God lets us tune out. He allows us to develop spiritual cataracts and tunnel vision. He allows us to blow out our eardrums so that we can’t hear him anymore.
We need things in our spiritual lives to jar us out of our complacency and cause us to reevaluate our dedication to Christ. We need a wake-up call.
From the careless virgins buzzes an alarm: Take initiative! Don’t be passive about personal spiritual disciplines!
From the slothful servant rings a reveille trumpet: Be invested! Give your all to what providence invests in you!
From the goats, a clamorous claxon resounds: Serve Others! Serve the poor! Serve the hungry! Serve the outcast!
And from Jeremiah, we see the outcome of ignoring God’s calls—God will block our calls. “…I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress.”
Don’t push “snooze” on the alarms sounding in these passages. Their intention is not to terrify us, but to guide us to action. His desire is for no one to perish, so open your eyes, open your ears. Attend to your spiritual responsibilities to yourself, to Christ, our master, and to those around you.
Music: The Sheep and the Goats (Live Performance) — Keith Green
Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that he is near, right at the gates. In truth I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place. Sky and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.”
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle
Jeremiah 11 (Listen – 4:09)
Matthew 25 (Listen – 6:04)
Readers Choice is your time to share favorite Park Forum posts from the year. What post did you share with a friend?
Read more about A Trinity of Neglect
The foolish virgins, the wicked servant, and the goats are a trinity of spiritual neglect.