“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, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:34-40 (New International Version)
Our men’s group is reading Mark Batterson’s Wild Goose Chase and part of the study involves personal goal setting – 100 of them broken into several categories. Among those on my first draft was a mission trip to the United Kingdom, helping with a church plant, writing for and teaching youth and parents more often. I asked my sons for their thoughts and received this from our oldest. “I like to help people or donate time, volunteer, what have you. I know y’all do it often but to have it as a goal might help you remember why you do and who you actually do it for. Matthew 25:40. I should practice this myself. I heard it somewhere and it stuck with me.”
In the book, Batterson writes: “…I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons most of us don’t accomplish more for the kingdom of God is because we don’t have any God-ordained goals we’re going after.” Combined with my son’s thoughts, I realized many of my goals, especially those specific to ministry, were of my desire and design, not God-ordained ones. Where were ‘the least of these’ being reached?
Yet we are described in Matthew 25:34 as being blessed by the King’s Father for our actions in meeting distinct human needs. These are ‘God-ordained’ goals where the righteous were not specifically looking for the Lord but for people in varying situations of distress. Helping ‘the least of these’ can require individual action as well as small and large group leaders, committee members.
And I fit neatly into those categories. But the Kingdom is not categorized for our preferences but the King’s. In my current work as a teacher in several venues, a deacon, a committee member, was I responding to the needs of others or just saying “yes” when asked to serve? Have I been confusing ministry with activity? My son called it remembering why we serve and who we actually do it for…a proper question to consider when presented with a ministry opportunity!
With thanks to my son and much prayer and humility, I will redraw my list with reaching the ‘least of these’ as a guide in making God-ordained goals my own.