Author: Ron Graham
On Judgment day, Jesus will commend and reward the deeds we do for others, and appreciate them as though they were done for him. In this lesson we consider three sayings of Jesus to this effect. We find these sayings in the parables of Matthew 25, verses 23,34,40.
¶“23 His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'” (Matthew 25:23).
This is an excerpt from the parable of the talents. In the parable, two servants performed faithfully in the responsibilities their master gave them. They achieved something worthwhile for their Master. Consequently he commended them, and promised them promotion to much greater work.
The master in the parable is Jesus himself, and the servant who achieves is you, or me, or anyone else among Christians who do their best to serve their Lord and Master.
This parable teaches us the same message as Paul when he wrote,“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord —knowing that your labor is not vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Our labour is not in vain, and it's not vain to think so. It is no arrogance on our part to think that our service in good works will be useful to our Lord Jesus and be commended by him. He tells us this in the parable, and let no one contradict him.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is reflected not in a dismissal of our work as worthless, but in his gracious commendation and reward for our work: “Well done... Enter into the joy of your master!” (Matthew 25:23).
¶“34Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'” (Matthew 25:34).
Another parable in Matthew 25 pictures the day of judgment at the second coming of Christ. As a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so Jesus separates those who are to inherit eternal life from those who are to be cursed with the devil and his angels.
It's a wonderful privilege to be one of the sheep in the flock of Christ. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give them eternal life.” (John 10:27-28).
We constantly hear his voice and follow him, as we daily heed and follow his word. But we look forward to that wonderful day when we shall hear his voice welcoming us into his eternal kingdom. This expectation motivates us to continue by his grace to do his will.
¶“40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'” (Matthew 25:40).
Although we look forward to hearing our Lord’s commendation of our labours, and his welcome into the heavenly kingdom, we may nevertheless feel puzzled as to what we have done for him that gives him reason to commend us and grant us eternal life.
The answer in the parable is this: “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25:35-36).
The people in the parable whom the Shepherd identified as his “sheep” were at a loss to understand when they had ever seen him in such difficulty and helped him. But he told them, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
So our service to the Lord does not have to be a service rendered to him personally, but a service rendered to anyone who is in need. Jesus counts such a service as though it were done to him. If we neglect such service, Jesus counts us as not worthy of commendation or of a welcome into heaven.
That's the reason behind the rule, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
When we do some good work for others, Jesus will say, “You did it for me!” This is pure grace on his part. Without that grace, without him validating our good works by accepting them as a gift honouring him, there would not be a reward in heaven.