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9

Service With a Smile

Key References: Matthew 24:1-14; 25:31-46; The Desire of Ages, chap. 70, pp. 637-641; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 8, pp. 187-192; Our Beliefs nos. 11, 21, 14

Power Text

“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’ ” (Matthew 25:40).

Power Point

Accepting Jesus’ love for us inspires us to serve Him and others.

Everyone has some friends who say lighthearted things that are easy to understand. But there are other friends who are deep thinkers. When these friends say something, you sometimes end up scratching your head because you are not sure what they mean. Jesus was one of those friends to His disciples. Sometimes He had them scratching their heads.

It was one of those days when Jesus had left His disciples openmouthed in the Temple. He had told the priests that He knew that they were plotting to kill Him and that they were as slithery as snakes. The disciples were glad to get out of the Temple. As they walked down the massive marble steps they remarked with pride about the beauty of the Temple. Perhaps they were trying to boost their feelings after being afraid or embarrassed of the priests’ reaction to Jesus’ sharp words. Maybe they thought Jesus needed to be reminded of the special place they were leaving so He would apologize to the priests. We’ll never know. But Jesus made them scratch their heads again by saying, “Do you see all these things? Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2). The disciples must have thought, This massive structure? Demolished?

They walked on in silence until they reached the top of the Mount of Olives, just outside the city. Perhaps they were still puzzled. Finally the disciples asked for an explanation. “When will these things be?” And Jesus began to give them warnings about the end of the world.

This led to a discussion we are still interested in today: who will be saved when Jesus comes?

Jesus said that when the Son of God comes to earth with His angels, He will assume His role as judge and separate people into two simple categories: sheep and goats. This will be just as a shepherd separates sheep from goats at shearing time. The disciples understood this. The wool of the sheep is different from goat hair, and goats aren’t sheared. So it made sense first of all that the shepherd could easily tell the animals apart and second that the animals should be divided. Jesus was trying to illustrate that it’s as easy for Him to tell the difference between people’s hearts as it is for us to tell the difference between sheep and goats.

Once the two categories of people are separated, Jesus will say to the “sheep,” the people who are so much like God, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

These are the people who care about others, not because they have to, and not because someone tells them they should. They are kind and caring because Jesus has been kind and caring to them. They want to be like Him. They see everyone as valuable in God’s sight. When they see someone thirsty, they give that person water; when someone needs clothes, they find clothes for that person; when someone needs a place to stay, they take that person into their own homes; they visit prisoners and help them. Their only motive? Genuine caring for others. And in return, they become more like Jesus by treating others 73 as He did. Jesus will say, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (verse 40). The sheep will be astounded!

The goats, on the other hand, aren’t motivated by kindness. They are too busy looking out for themselves. They perform good works because it might make them look good. Or they think good deeds will buy their way into heaven. To the goats, Jesus will say, “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” (verses 42, 43).

The goats will have a lame excuse. They will claim that if they had known that it was Jesus who needed water, food, clothes, friendship, they would have done those nice things for Him! But they didn’t know!

Jesus will say, “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (verse 45). They will be turned away, because in heaven, everyone cares about everyone else. Selfish people won’t fit in; they won’t be happy there.