In the parable of the sheep and the goats Jesus has communicated that in spite of man’s fall into sin God’s original intention for him did not change. For He says that when He comes as king to reign in righteousness and sits upon the throne of His glory to judge the nations He will say to those on His right who were separated there by the truth of His word to come and inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. For what reason does He say that those on His right were separated as sheep to inherit that kingdom which God had in mind for such as them from the very beginning? See Mat 25:35-36. Does Jesus in this parable then communicate that it is on the basis of one’s doctrine that one is ultimately judged worthy to inherit the kingdom, or on the basis of the fruit one bears? Cf. Mat 7:15-20 and notice there too that Jesus didn’t say that it was by their doctrine that we would know false prophets, but by their fruit. What is the relationship between sound doctrine and good fruit? Does good fruit necessarily come from even a sound understanding of doctrine? Cf. Joh 5:39-40 and consider that in the first century the scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus had just condemned in Mat 23 were among the most orthodox of the Jewish sects in their understanding of Scripture, and the apostle Paul before his conversion was himself a Pharisee (Act 26:5, Phil 3:5). Where does good fruit come from? See Luk 8:15. In what way does a good and honest heart lead one into sound doctrine? Cf. 2Th 2:10-12. How does one obtain a good and honest heart? See Joh 3:3. Should the foremost goal of a church in fulfilling the great commission and making disciples then be to establish people in sound doctrine—especially as defined by one’s sectarian faith—or to see them born again with a good and honest heart that bears the fruit of righteousness? Cf. 1Ti 1:5-7.
How many specific acts of charity does Jesus mention in Mat 25:35-36? What are they? What do they all have in common? Is the underlying quality that motivates all of them necessarily the sound doctrine of knowing that such things are the substance of pure and undefiled religion (Jam 1:27)? Cf. 1Co 13:3. What does this again illustrate about the end goal of our faith being not just to know the truth, but to be transformed by that truth into the image of Christ so as to have His heart of love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith? Cf. Tit 1:1 NIV.
Besides being motivated by a heart of compassion, in what way do the six charitable deeds of love that Jesus mentions address the most basic needs of man? What basic need of man is met by inviting in a stranger? Of visiting the sick? Of going to see those in prison? What does this remind us about the need to feel welcome, to know that others care and our lives have value, and to not be alone? In what way does Satan tempt people by such circumstances? What does this teach us about the way that simple deeds of kindness can help others overcome such temptations, and so further God’s kingdom? How do Jesus’ words about welcoming strangers apply to the politically charged debate about immigration? Is there a difference between welcoming strangers in kindness and love that furthers God’s kingdom, and welcoming them as political tools that furthers the world’s kingdoms?
What do Jesus’ words to the sheep on His right that address the basic needs of man that they were motivated in love to address teach us about the basic requirements of righteousness upon which God judges the hearts of men? Cf. Job 31:16-22,32, Isa 58:5-7, Luk 3:10-11, Act 9:36, 10:2,31, 11:29, Jam 2:15-16, 1Jo 3:16-18.
Are any of the charitable acts that Jesus mentions very costly, at least to us today, in a monetary way? Although they don’t necessarily cost us a lot of money, in what ways do they cost us? What is it about our lives in this age that makes it such a sacrifice to take time for such deeds of kindness? Contrast 1Jo 2:15, and consider that time freely given to such acts is time taken away from our own pursuits in the world—even religious pursuits. Although it may seem to our flesh that the time spent on such acts profits us little, and so we should not spend much time on them, when does the parable make clear that they are rewarded, and by whom? What central virtue of our Christian walk allows us to see past the temporal costs of charitable acts that perhaps leave us with less in this world, but that promise an even greater future reward? Cf. Heb 11:6.