“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You a drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?'”
– Jesus, to the disciples (Matthew 25:37-39)
Jesus’ description of the Final Judgment that will take place before His royal throne contains many surprises and twists. The King has divided the people, placing some to His right and others to His left, and He has just announced that those on His right can inherit their rightful place in His Kingdom because of the acts of service they performed for Him.
But here, we see that the righteous are taken aback by the explanation. Their astonishment comes not from their being welcomed into the Kingdom, but from the King’s declaration that they have served Him personally. How could it be that they served the King without ever realizing it? Jesus will later explain that the good deeds the righteous performed for the King’s followers were counted as if done for the King Himself.
The righteous people that will inherit God’s Kingdom are those who often serve the Lord without ever realizing it. True believers do not minister to others as a photo-op, hoping to receive earthly accolades and praise. Their service comes not from self-seeking motives, but from the overflow of a Christ-like heart. Those who will be placed to the right of Jesus will be the ones who have served Him by serving others.
Of course, there’s no sense in purposefully pretending not to recognize the goodness of a particular action performed in accordance with Jesus’ commands. The point is not to ignore good works, but to take advantage of the opportunities to serve Jesus, our King, by seeing His reflection in the faces of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Christians are called to live within a community of believers, to help one another, to share belongings, and ensure that everyone’s needs are met. It is in our service to our Christian family that we are personally serving our King.