We can’t always know if someone is a genuine Christian just by looking at them. But, Jesus can. Jesus often used the analogy of sheep vs. goats to make a point. Certain varieties of sheep and goats look so much alike the average person cannot tell them apart. However, shepherds can easily distinguish a sheep from a goat.
John 10:27-28, New King James Version – “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
Likewise everyone who claims to be a true follower of Christ is not. Genuine Christians follow Jesus’ teachings—they are the sheep of his pasture. While others merely appear to be Christians on the surface—they go to church and quote scripture–but do not actually obey the Word of God. Sheep follow. Goats go their own way.
The Lord has a simple test to separate His sheep from the goats.
He examines each person’s life based on the following question: How did we treat our fellow man–especially the ones who needed our help the most? Did we feed the poor, help the homeless, and visit the sick and imprisoned?
Matthew 25:32-36, New King James Version – “All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’”
If we love Jesus, we will also love people in a tangible way. True followers of Christ obey this teaching.
Matthew 25:37-40, New King James Version – “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”
The early leaders of the Christian Church, like the Apostles Peter, James, John and Paul, followed Jesus’ example by helping those less fortunate.
Luke 14:13, NKJV – “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.”
Mark 10:21, NKJV – “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
Galatians 2:9-11, The Living Bible – “In fact, when Peter, James, and John, who were known as the pillars of the church, saw how greatly God had used me in winning the Gentiles, just as Peter had been blessed so greatly in his preaching to the Jews—for the same God gave us each our special gifts—they shook hands with Barnabas and me and encouraged us to keep right on with our preaching to the Gentiles while they continued their work with the Jews. The only thing they did suggest was that we must always remember to help the poor, and I, too, was eager for that.”
Jesus makes a distinction between people who help others and those who do not.
Matthew 25:41-43, New King James Version – “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no 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.’”
Those who want to enter into the Kingdom of God, should love God and their fellow-man.
Matthew 25:44-46, New King James Version – “Then they also will answer Him, 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 He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch 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 into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
We are saved by faith; but faith without works is dead. Faith in Christ causes us to do what Jesus does—love God, love others, and live a holy life.
James 2:26, NKJV – “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
James 2:20, TLB – “Fool! When will you ever learn that “believing” is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith.”
James 2:27, TLB – The Christian who is pure and without fault, from God the Father’s point of view, is the one who takes care of orphans and widows, and who remains true to the Lord—not soiled and dirtied by his contacts with the world.
Let’s Pray: Dear God, Please give me the grace to love You more. What can I do to show my love for you today? Please help me to hear Your voice and obey. In Jesus’ name, Amen.