Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Someone asked a very thoughtful question about the final Day of Judgment.
In that last Day the "righteous" express surprise that the Lord praises them and says, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in." They respond in genuine humility, "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?" You must be telling someone else, "Come!" This must be a mistake--we have never thought ourselves worthy to enter Your kingdom.
But the King will assure them, No, it's you I mean, "Come!" because whenever you demonstrated love for someone else, it was Me you were blessing! (Matt. 25:31-40). These are the "[sheep] gathered before Him."
Then Jesus tells how the goats will respond when He tells them, "Depart from Me" (vs. 41). They will argue, protesting that they deserve to enter in, He has made a mistake in His judgment. Look at all the good things we have done!
As Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount, the "goats" will argue, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, ... and done many wonders in Your name?" (7:21-23). Again, the "goats" will have it backward as much as the "sheep" had it backward!
Now for the question that was asked: "If it's so wise for us to walk softly and not talk with a false assurance, why does Paul say so confidently, 'There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day'"? (2 Tim. 4:8). Doesn't that sound a little like some pride similar to what the "goats" will express on that "Day"?
Superficially that is true. But remember, these words were written just hours or minutes before Paul was beheaded for the sake of Jesus. Nero has condemned him; any moment now the soldier will walk in and say, Follow me; I must behead you! Paul was not reviewing all the good works he had done; all he said was, "I have kept the faith" (vs. 7).
If you will keep the faith until your last hour, you can have that same confidence. But meanwhile, until then, walk and talk "softly" (see 1 Kings 21:27, King James Version, which says Ahab in his repentance after a terribly sinful life "went softly").
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 14, 2003.
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