my religious ego


Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by 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 welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ [Matthew 25:34-40 ESV]


The first thing that strikes me about this passage is the ignorance of those who Jesus calls blessed.
These who were doing charitable works seemed unaware that they were ministering to Jesus.
Perhaps this sort of ignorance is the hallmark of divine love and compassion?

In contrast, I must admit that I was very aware of why I ministered in prisons.
I did so because I felt commanded to go during the six years that I visited prisons and jails.
In reality, this passage was the only reason I did it.

As I ponder these verses I wonder about about those years and my motives.
Was it all about my religious ego or a concern for hurting inmates.
In hindsight, I think that it was a mix of the two.

When I think about the people described in this passage I think about Jesus.
The gospels report that Jesus was moved by compassion when he saw hurting people.
In like manner these, who Jesus call blessed, also seem to be moved by compassion.

These sorts of people help strangers who are hungry, thirsty, sick and behind bars.
Often ministering to such people engages a part of us that has so little to do with compassion.
Yet sometimes compassion arises in us and we touch hurting people.

In doing so we minister to Jesus.

Examine me Lord. Drive ungodly motives from me and fill my heart with compassion.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

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