I got to talking to my husband the other night, about what I have now forgotten, save for one thing that has stuck with me. Allow me to preface my comments with the following passage from Matthew, as it sets the context for my thoughts.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 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, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also 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?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
If engaging in acts of kindness toward others, especially to “the least of these,”
is the same as doing so for Christ,
and not doing those same things is the same as failing to do so for Christ,
would it not follow that engaging in acts of hostility and unkindness toward others
would equate to the same regarding Christ?
Refusing repent a wrong and seek forgiveness?
Would that not be the same as refusing to confess a sin to God and seek forgiveness and reconciliation?
Refusing to grant forgiveness to someone who sincerely apologized and made restitution?
Wouldn’t that be the same as God refusing to grant forgiveness and reconciliation to a sincere confession, or (even worse) putting yourself in the role of God?
Writing someone off as unworth any effort on your part?
Is this not the same as rejecting God?
Treating others as though they are inferior to you, judging others more harshly than yourself?
Isn’t this equivalent to the Pharisee’s public prayer in the temple, thanking God that he is not like other (more sinful) sinners?
It seems to me that if we choose to write others off, closing the door to any chance of reconciliation, then it is tantamount to turning our backs on Christ. We are not to be the judges of who is or is not worthy. We are called to forgive as he forgives. We are called to love as Christ loves us. We are called to live our lives to the Glory of God, and to not be an impediment to others striving to do so alongside of us. We are called to follow hard after Christ, to live a life representative of Him, to humble ourselves before Him. We are called not to be Pharisees.
Hard to hear. Harder to do, especially when I recognize in myself those pharisaical tendencies.