Hebrews 4:12 depicts GOD’s word as “living and active.” I think we experience this in times where we receive new insight on scripture that we are familiar with; especially when that insight is from personal reading and meditation versus a corporate service or bible study.
If you have interacted with GOD’s word for a consistent amount of time you have probably experienced what I mentioned above. You will read a portion of scripture that you know you have read before and something will “jump out” at you in such a profound way that you wonder, “Why did I not see this before?” There can be a lot of reasons for this, but I believe it goes back to GOD’s word being living and active.
One of the most memorable ways this happened to me was reading through Matthew 25:31-46. This portion of scripture is often referred to by the name “The Sheep and the Goats.”
JESUS speaks of gathering all nations and separating the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. With each group, JESUS gives a series of statements which serve as the criteria for the separating. One group did what JESUS spoke and the other group did not do what JESUS spoke.
What “jumped out” at me while reading this time was that JESUS did not put a qualifier on the statements. JESUS said, “I was hungry and you fed me” to one group and “I was hungry and you did not feed me” to the other group. JESUS did not say, “I was hungry because of [insert reason here], and therefore I was qualified for you to feed me or not feed me.” JESUS did not provide a qualifier.
That hit me in a major way because we come across people in need often. And often we want to know why they are in the condition they are in. Are you hungry because you are a hard worker but you had to pay another bill or are you hungry because you are lazy, do not work, and have no way to provide food for yourself? If you meet the qualifications of the first part of the above sentence, then maybe I can help you, but if you do not meet those qualifications, you can forget it.
I may never voice those concerns out loud, but they play loud in my mind. My compassion has to fight against my skepticism. But why is that skepticism there anyway?
Of course, we should use wisdom in everything that we do. And yes, giving money to a drug addict could be a very bad thing. But I think it is important for us to know that our giving really has nothing to do with the person in need, and more so to do with our devotion to GOD. Consider the fact that JESUS said when you do or do not complete these acts to the least of all people, you do or do not complete those acts for HIM.
My response to a need is between GOD and me and what a person does with the provision for that need is ultimately between them and GOD.
Furthermore, imagine if our true need of justification was provided for on the basis of us meeting certain qualifications. Imagine that.
Grace and peace.