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Ministering To One Another

By William R. Cunningham
January 16, 2000

Introduction

You have heard it said many times before on various occasions and in various religious meetings. You have heard it said, "Give me $100 and God will bless you" or something to that effect. You have heard the standard law to tithe your money to your church (i.e., the pastor) so that God would open the windows of heaven (so that you have more money to tithe to your church). You have heard the requests and sometimes pleas for money so that the church edifice can be improved or a new building purchased. You have heard all of these things and a lot more. However, when was the last time you heard it said to give so that each other’s needs are met? When was the last time your church was not the destination for the resources, rather the people were?

The focus of this lesson is the ministry to each other as a means of ministering to Christ. You may ask, "How can I minister to Jesus Christ, the son of God?" Well in this lesson you will see exactly how this is possible and the implications of such. Tithing, giving to the church, and the like are not bad things in themselves. The problem is that the church builiding, the pastor, and in some cases the religion has become the focus of attention. Christians are not concerned about loving each other and ministering to each other. That is the job of a special office in the church, which some believe. We are not concerned about sister Sally’s electricity or gas so as long as we give religiously to our church and pastor so that WE can be blessed. It is no longer about loving thy neighbor, rather, "What’s in it for me and how can I succeed?"

I hope that after reading this lesson that you would realize the importance of ministering to each other. I pray that you would re-evaluate your religious/church activities and begin to follow the WAY of Christianity, which is the WAY of love.

The Lesson

The primary scripture for this lesson is Matthew 25:31-46. I believe that this passage of scriptures is not a discertation on the end times. I believe that the focus is elsewhere based on the emphasis given. We may decide to extract information for the end times but I think that this passage describe the activities of the righteous as opposed to the unrighteous.

The Judgment

Matthew 25:31-33 (KJV) When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

These verses describe the final judgment of the righteous and the unrighteous. We also note that the Son of man, namely Jesus Christ, is the King that will judge. For illustration purposes, the sheep were thought of as good while the goats were thought of as trouble in some writings. The sheep and the goat did graze together in Palestine. However, the shepherds did separate them at night because the goats preferred warmth and the sheep preferred open air. The right and the left hand referred to the righteous and the unrighteous respectively in many writings and thought.

We also note the complete authority that Jesus has in judgment. He will judge all nations of people according to a standard that is about to be set forth.

The Righteous

Matthew 25:34-37 (KJV) 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 hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

Jesus calls those on his right blessed of God (the Father). He says that they will inherit the kingdom that was prepared for them since the beginning of the world. This reveals the intent of God regarding the eternal resting place. It also tells us that our life on this earth was temporary since the beginning of the world.

Why were they allowed to enter the Kingdom of God? Jesus gives the reason as follows:

  1. They fed the hungry

  2. They gave drink to the thirsty

  3. They provided shelter for the stranger (guest, foreigner)

  4. Clothed those needing clothing

  5. Visited the sick

  6. Visited those in prison

Basically we see that the righteous ministered to Christ. Also note that Jesus, the King, is addressing the group of righteous people and not every individual separately. This may imply that as a group the righteous did the previously listed things. This is an allusion to the many acting in unity as one whole or one entity (person if you will). But how is it possible for them to minister to Christ? Let’s continue.

Matthew 25:37-40 (KJV) Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

The righteous asked the same question. How did we minister to you (in the ways listed)? Jesus told them that when they did it to the least of his brethren, they did it to him. It should be noted that the word "brethren" may have been understood to mean Jewish people since that was the context. Remember that salvation or Christianity was not in existence at this time. We also know that the Jewish people (Israelite people) were considered as God’s people and therefore how a person treats God’s people would be used in the judgment. However, another view is seen when we consider Jesus’ definition or identification of his brothers.

Matthew 12:46-50 (KJV) While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Therefore, anyone who does the will of God is part of the family of God. Doing God’s will also means believing in Jesus Christ since God wants all people to be saved.

We are God’s people if indeed we believe in Christ. What is said in this parable of Jesus therefore applies to us. The Bible says that we are joint heirs with Christ and that we have been adopted into the family of God.

Romans 8:15-17 (KJV) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Ephesians 1:5 (KJV) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

The fact that ministering to the family of God is the same as ministering to Christ shows the bond that Christ has with all of us. We are all one family joined together by the Holy Spirit.

The Unrighteous

Matthew 25:41-43 (KJV) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

The unrighteous are condemned (because of their own actions). The ones on Christ’s left are called cursed and are told to go to everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angles. This is very interesting because it implies that hell was not originally prepared for people. Instead, it was prepared for the devil and the angles that followed him.

The unrighteous did not minister to Christ. Again, how could they have ministered to Christ? Let’s continue.

Matthew 25:44-46 (KJV) Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

They didn’t minister to Christ because they didn’t minister to God’s people. Remember that the context of the original hearers would have been Jewish people. However, since we are Children of God through Christ Jesus, we too are God’s people.

Lesson Learned

We are Christians, the family of God. The Spirit of Love directs us, which is the Spirit of God. We are to love each other in word and deed. This means that we minister to each other and help each other. The first Christians instinctively did this without any instructions because the Spirit of love and unity moved them. Consider the following scriptures.

Acts 2:42-47 (KJV) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 4:32-35 (KJV) And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Today things have changed very much. We don’t care fore each other, as we should. Many high profile church leaders preach more prosperity then they do of love and the will of God. However, there are many ministers, pastors, and preachers that preach the truth pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

When was the last time you were taught about loving your neighbor, ministering to those in need, or helping when you can as vehemently as you were taught to tithe in order to be blessed, or give you money to the church for such and such project and God will reward you? Usually the teaching that will edify us as one body is not heard in the high profile ministries. Unfortunately many Christians listen to these men and women and are deceived. A major consequence of this is that many Christians that are less fortunate are doing without and relying or the government to meet their needs.

What if we ministered to these people instead of ministering to a church building or a pastor that already drives around in a Mercedes or lives in a mansion? What if we really cared for each other and demonstrated our love and devotion to Christ in doing so? Remember that when you minister to other Christians, you are ministering to Christ.

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