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?’ 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.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The way we treat people is so important to God and the way that we shut up compassion in our hearts has eternal consequences. It does beg the question though of why some let compassion flow freely while others damn it up inside of themselves. To answer I give you two Greek words that speak a bit to the human condition:
- hamartanō :: to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize), to err, especially (morally) to sin. [see Romans 3:23 for context]
- parabasis :: violation, breaking, transgression. [see Romans 4:15 for context]
Yet I believe that Jesus, in this passage, speaks to those who live lives of bad intentions.. people who have suppressed compassion for so long that they no longer understand what it means to be truly human. These are those who do not simply miss the mark. Jesus' words condemn them as he speaks of the way that their hard and selfish hearts have rejected pleas for food, clothing and compassion. To these he speaks words of punishment.
Help me Lord to remember how you suffer with the poor, the sick and imprisoned.