Grandpa had a farm with goats, sheep, a couple of horses, peacocks, cockatiels, parakeets, cats, chickens, fish in the ponds, cattle and a few pigs. He wanted a monkey but grandma put her foot down with that wish. All the animals had their particular space on his 160 acres. Goats would irritate the sheep if you put them together. The horses would tease the cattle. The cats could not, under any circumstance, be near the birds. The chickens had their own place for the production of eggs to eat and sell. Yes, it was a producing farm. He raised the exotic birds to sell to pet stores. He raised cattle and pigs for his family to eat all winter. Grandma grew flowers, vegetables and fruit. They froze meat, canned fruit and vegetables and enjoyed providing for more than the two of them.
Grandpa was also a talented carpenter. He built custom cabinets for people who merely told him what they had in mind. He built his own house on his farm while raising animals. AND he was an elder in his church. Actually, he was deemed “THE elder” when it came to decision making with Godly wisdom.
How did he do all this? I’m wondering that now as I write this. He was fully devoted to God and asked God daily what He wanted him to do. His nightly habit, with Grandma at his side, was to read a portion of God’s Word, meditate on it, then get on their knees to pray. That’s where his strength and Grandma’s relentless faith came from, being with God before retiring for rest.
How do I know? I spent all my school vacations on this farm with them and became part of the process of learning about God and living for Him. I thought Grandpa knew everything. I wanted to be where he was at all times. I would sit on the door step waiting for his truck to come home from working on someone’s house so we could be together again. My grandma taught me about cooking but I always wanted to be outside as soon as “chores” were done inside. I will never forget the smile on Grandpa’s face as I followed him around with “life” questions. I loved seeing the twinkle in my grandma’s eyes when I did what she did well. She also laughed at all my jokes.
I also observed and sometimes helped my grandparents feed others. They would not hesitate to feed someone who came down their path from the main road hungry. Grandma’s habit at church was to greet new people who came with, “What are you doing for lunch? Why don’t you join us? We have plenty to share.” They were not rich in the eyes of the world but wealthy in faith, love, sharing, and caring.
I could go on, but you get the picture. When they served others, they knew they served Jesus. Those were the “lessons for life” that I learned. I am grateful, eternally grateful, for these lessons learned by knowing, seeing and doing.
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “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. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 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.’
44 “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?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
Serving is what Jesus did. “I came to serve, not to be served.” (John 13). He gave us the extreme example of how to serve. He left us with nothing to question. He expects us to put others’ interests first (like He did)… above our own desires, pleasures, habits, free time and contentment. We are not to be greedy with our time but gracious in interruptions that help others. We are to serve “without the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing”. That means we serve as a habit of right living expecting nothing in return for our service to others. We see a need, then we meet that need according to what has been given to us.
It seems simple, doesn’t it? But, when this principle is called to be acted upon, excuses are easily found. Here are some of today’s “Goat-like” excuses:
“I’m too old and/or tired, let someone else.”
“I need to save my money for a rainy day.”
“I cannot serve because my needs have not yet been met.”
“I need my church to do for me what I expect.”
“I want my church to be there for me when I need it.”
“If you love me, you would give me what I need.”
“I’ll pray for you, but that’s all I can do at the moment.”
“I will come and help when life settles down.”
“I’ll be there for you…when I get a chance.”
“I would help you, but you need to help yourself first.”
“I would help but you got yourself into this so you can get yourself out.”
I could go on, but you get the picture. I am eternally grateful Jesus did not treat me, a failure in so many ways, with these goat-like excuses. He saved me. He restored me. He taught me and still teaches me. He is graciously patient and loves me without conditions. I must love like He loves. I want to love others like He loves me. This is the “least” I could do for what He has given to me…Life eternal with Him.
Jesus showed us the bigger picture of life and death in his story better than we can think or imagine. There are His sheep and there are goats. Who are we?
We repent of being goat-like in our attitudes of serving. Teach us to always follow in your ways, prompted by Your Holy Spirit. Help us to mature to the point of serving without question, without even thinking about it. Help serving to be in our DNA as Your people. May we serve you by serving others as a way of life. May this always be our habit of choice. Continue to transform our minds, hearts and souls. Put this sheep on the right, please.
In Jesus Name, Amen