Friday, 27 October 2017

The Extra Mile

Scripture: Matthew 5 v 38 - 41: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
 39  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
 40  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
 41  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain."

Matthew 25 v 34-35: "Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in."

Two very important chapters in Matthew that focus on a) the state of the world; b) state of the Church; and c) the state of Israel at the time of the end are Matthew 24 and 25. The last passage of chapter 25 concerns Jesus' earthly judgment between the sheep and the goats.

Sheep follow so they are righteous; goats butt and are unrighteous. The sheep go on His right hand and goats go left. Sheep are gentle and non-aggressive animals that are easily led and controlled. Goats are not. So when Jesus comes in glory with His holy angels He will divide the sheep from the goats. What is His definition of right and wrong?

I was hungry and you fed Me; I was thirsty and you gave Me a drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you visited Me. Our response to Jesus is - When did we do these things to You?

He says whenever you did it to your fellow human beings no matter how down and out they might be - you did it to Me. To My Body. And Jesus was not meaning our hospitality. There is a deeper meaning to feeding Him and giving Him a drink.

The souls in the world become hungry for knowledge about Jesus and what the Bible says about Him. The most unlikely people eventually feel the hunger pangs and need us to feed them with what we know about Jesus. He is the Bread of Heaven - If we allow Jesus to have His way and share His love with them we are sheep. If we turn away and ignore the cry for help we are goats.

They thirst for righteousness and we need to explain that when we are born again we come alive inside Jesus and His righteousness covers us by grace. If we deny them this drink of Living Water we are goats. 

When did we see You as a stranger and take You in? A stranger is one who has not been assimilated into the Body of Christ. He is born again but has not found his place in the Body. We need to help him feel at home in the Church or group and include him in its activities. Sheep are warm and friendly but goats are aloof and uncaring. 

There are many naked ones who have no spiritual clothing. This does not mean religious garments but garments of righteousness - praise and holiness, prayer and worship. We need to be an inspiration for those who are new to the Body to be clothed in robes of fellowship. Sheep will provide this service, goats will ignore the opportunities. 

We visit the sick, not on hospital duty rosters, which is a blessing for those who choose to be kind and friendly, but when we are alerted that a brother or sister is in trouble. We pray for their needs to be met and if led by God we get involved in helping to fix the problems. The needs are all around us and there is never a lack of people struggling. Are you a sheep who cares and helps, or a goat that is selfish and full of excuses?

Finally, we visited You in prison, when was that exactly? When we saw people in bondage and ministered to them. When we discovered that there is a personal devil that hates God's people and goes all out to destroy them.  We must learn how to withstand him and rescue those in severe situations out of his evil hands. If you are wise about it you are a sheep. If not, not a sheep.

When the Romans occupied Israel during the time Jesus was alive there, the soldiers arriving from Rome carried heavy bags and were exhausted.  If they met Jews on the road they would compel them to carry their baggage for a mile while they recouped their strength.  This caused many grievances and complaints to the Government.  Jesus said to His followers, don't complain rather carry the bags for two miles, go the extra mile!

Everything we do and how we respond to every situation is faithfully recorded in Heaven for the Lord to use on the day He separates His sheep from the evil goats. It is never too late to begin to be a true sheep in the Lord's flock knowing that every good thing we do is being done to Him.

Jesus said we must turn the other cheek if someone hits us in the face.  In the world the response would be to hit back.  God says that vengeance belongs to Him and He will repay them.  His dealings with those who hurt His children are so much more satisfying than anything we dish out.  It's a question of trust!  

Going the extra mile without looking for some acclaim should be the norm for us as Christians.  Let us do more than is expected of us rather than just enough to get by.  If we are being sued, don't fight it like the world does, rather submit gracefully and generously.  Let the Lord deal with the outcome when we surprise the world by our obedience to Him.

Prayer: Father God we are all in this together and there needs to be unity among the sheep of the Lord. Perhaps we will win some goats over to Your loving ways. Teach us to be Your hands extended to meet the needs of those who need You most. In Jesus' name. Amen.