>“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For 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.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Matthew 25:41-46

Okay, so what if you love Jesus, but you just don’t feel like doing any of this? Let’s say that you don’t really have a mercy gift, but you do have a strong gift of discernment. You can tell the homeless why they got in their situation and give them three steps to get back on their feet. They simply look at you and say, “But, are you going to help me?” You think, “Well, I just did.”

We live in a selfish, indulgent culture. As believers, we are just as prone as the next guy to chase the newer, faster, shinier, better, softer, tastier things. Advertising works well on the just and the unjust.

I have lived in several places that call themselves the “buckle of the Bible belt” (apparently, there’s a little competition for true “buckle” status). Most people in Buckleville, regard themselves as “good soil” from Jesus’ parable. We are open. We are fertile ground for the Word of God to be planted and to flourish. We just get a little distracted.

Here’s a hard truth: most of us, even in the buckle, are more like thorny ground “who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). We can all say “Ouch” together.

At this point you might be thinking, how did this devotional become so pointed? Why can’t we get back on this week’s topic of Hell? Is Jesus going to send us to Hell if we don’t do good works?

“[Jesus] is not saying that only the social workers get into heaven. Rather, he is saying that the inevitable sign that you know you are a sinner saved by sheer, costly grace is a sensitive social conscience and a life poured out in deeds of service to the poor. [The wayward] are too selfish and [the pious] are too self-righteous to care for the poor” (Tim Keller in The Prodigal God, page 112).

Now, go and feel bad for a little while, beat yourself up, and then forget about this devotional. Okay, how about this? Anything that we are not deeply motivated to do can easily become “works” in our lives. If we fill our lives up with things that we should do, we end up living “shouldy” lives.

Instead, our motive to help others should stem from our deep love for God. If you make yourself available to God for His purposes, you will be surprised at what He can accomplish through you.

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