Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this:
to take care of the orphans and widows in their affliction,
and to keep oneself unspotted by the world.”
Once, the Lord put my family and me through an especially difficult time. During it, many of our brothers and sisters in the Lord were especially gracious to us. Some of them helped take care of our yard, some cooked meals for us, and others helped pay for expensive medical bills. These dear people made it very obvious to us that we were very much loved and cared for.
One day while I was driving to work, the Lord let me understand something. As I was thinking about the meal our friend Bess had cooked for us the night before, I started getting deeply touched. I was very moved by what this dear friend of ours had done for us while we were going through this hard time. Had she done this for us while things were going just fine, I don’t think it would have had nearly the same effect on me.
Then, I felt something I had never quite felt before. I felt an especially strong desire for holy living rise up in me unlike I had ever felt. I was so touched by what this sister had done for us that it made me want to obey God and love others (especially those who were hurting) like never before. In other words, it made me want to do for others what Bess had done to us, because I could see the very wonderful effect it was having on me. The Lord opened my eyes to how holy a thing it was for this sister to cook a meal for us during a difficult time. It was no small thing at all; it was a holy, holy deed.
I then remembered the scripture from James, “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to take care of the orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted by the world.” Our friend Bess was practicing pure religion the day she prepared that meal for us. She was not only being good to us during a difficult time, she was encouraging us in a big way to stay on God’s pathway. That is real religion.
Isn’t this exactly what John told his followers to do if they hoped to enter into the kingdom of God? “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none [presumably, someone who is going through a hard time]; and let him who has food do the same” (Lk. 3:11).
And, isn’t this what Jesus was talking about in Luke 10:30—37?
“A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, but he fell among thieves who, after they had both stripped and beaten him, went away, leaving him as he was, half dead. Now, by chance, a certain priest was coming down that road and, when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite also came to that place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a certain Samaritan on a journey came upon him, and he was moved with compassion when he saw him. And going to him, he bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. And putting him on his own beast, he took him to an inn and cared for him. And as he was leaving the next morning, pulling out two denarii, he gave them to the innkeeper and said to him, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you might spend, I will repay you on my return.’
Now then, which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said to him, “You go, and do the same.”
And, ultimately, isn’t this the criteria by which Jesus said all men would be judged?
“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, he will then sit on the throne of his glory, and all nations will be gathered before him. And he’ll separate them from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he’ll put the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and fed you? Or thirsty, and gave you drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in? Or naked, and gave you clothes? And when did we see you sick or in prison, and came to you?’ And the king will answer and say to them, ‘Truly, I tell you that as often as you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me.’
Then he’ll say to those on the left, ‘Go away from me, you cursed, into the eternal flame that is prepared for the Accuser and his angels. For I was hungry, and you did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and you did not give me to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not take me in; naked, and you did not clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.’ Then, these will answer saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
Then will he answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I tell you that as often as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Mt. 25:31—46).
Please notice that according to Jesus, the sole criteria by which a person will be judged is whether or not he had done good to those who were going through a hard time.
Let’s look for opportunities to do good to those who are hurting, my friend. If we live our lives this way (with God’s help), He will see to it that we receive a just reward.