Greetings in the name of Jesus, faithful disciples of the Lord. Some of you may wonder why I am always writing positive things, even when times are difficult. First, it is a commandment recorded by the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV
- Rejoice always,
- pray continually,
- give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
But one of the most compelling reasons is the wonderful life of Jesus Christ I witness in the lives of true disciples of Jesus Christ.
In several churches in the Southwest District of the General Conference Church of God (Seventh Day) families have contracted the disease called COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus. But this testimony is about the women of a Local Church of God (Seventh Day) in Arkansas and a whole family in that church which experienced the impact of COVID-19. The Father contracted the illness from his exposure in the workplace and before it was known, his wife and family were also exposed. The parents suffered from the disease and, at the time of my learning of the matter, the children were not exhibiting major symptoms but did also test positive for the coronavirus. We praise God for their survival.
This is where the story turns Christian. Upon learning of the family’s plight, the women of the Local Church arranged so meals would be prepared for the family everyday and left on the front porch for the children to carry into the house. That is Christian love. How can I be anything but positive with you with such discipleship exhibited in the people of God?
And yet, sometimes I suppose a warning is necessary. Because not all those professing to follow Christ behave in such ways. When we read Jesus’ narrative of the judgment scene, the focus is on what was done in being a neighbor to someone in need. No mention is made of the more traditional things the Jews then, and the Christians of today, seem to focus, except Jesus’ words to the group that seemed to think they had done enough to be granted entrance into his eternal kingdom to whom he said, “depart, I never knew you.” Wow. I am not saying correct doctrine is not important. It is. The epistles of 2 John and 3 John speak of the relevance of that balance. There are many things that are important in the teachings of Jesus. The Great Commandment and the Great Commission are right there at the top. But forgiving others because we are forgiven and being a neighbor to others seems to be extremely high on Jesus’ list of important matters. When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, he returned to the fifth point of that prayer to illustrate there is a way to ruin your own forgiveness by not forgiving others. You can check out that one if you like. But first I want us to consider Jesus’ discussion of the judgment.
Matthew 25:31-46, NIV
- “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
- All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
- He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
- “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
- 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.’
- “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
- When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
- When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
- “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
- “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
- For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
- I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
- “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?’
- “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.’
- “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I am rejoicing over the women of the Fort Smith, Arkansas Church of God (Seventh Day) who, without outside prompting, immediately came together and determined how they could meet the needs of their neighbor and fellow family in Christ. It reminded me of an old hymn that was popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Sure, there are some who still sing it to this day. But in those days, it was a standard of fellowship in the circles of Churches where my mother took me for worship. It was titled, “A Beautiful Life”. It seemed to be loosely based on one of Jesus’ parables as recorded by Dr. Luke in his account of the gospel.
Luke 10:33-34, NIV
- But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
- He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
I hope you might read the words of this hymn, now just over 100 years old, and let it guide you in your attitude and behavior towards others.
A Beautiful Life
By William M. Golden, 1918
Copyright status is: Public Domain
- Each day I’ll do a golden deed,
By helping those who are in need;
My life on earth is but a span,
And so I’ll do the best I can.
Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
A few more days, and I must go
To meet the deeds that I have done,
Where there will be no setting sun.
- To be a child of God each day,
My light must shine along the way;
I’ll sing His praise while ages roll,
And strive to help some troubled soul.
- The only life that will endure,
Is one that’s kind and good and pure;
And so for God I’ll take my stand,
Each day I’ll lend a helping hand.
- I’ll help someone in time of need,
And journey on with rapid speed;
I’ll help the sick and poor and weak,
And words of kindness to them speak.
- While going down life’s weary road,
I’ll try to lift some trav’ler’s load;
I’ll try to turn the night to day,
Make flowers bloom along the way.