Inasmuch as ye did it not - By not doing good to the “followers” of Christ, they showed that they had no real love to Him. By not doing good to the poor and needy, to the stranger and the prisoner, they showed that they had not his spirit, and were not like him, and were unfit for his kingdom. Let it be observed here that the public ground of their condemnation is the neglect of duty, or because “they did it not.” We are not to suppose that they will not also be condemned for their open and positive sins. See Romans 2:9; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5-6; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Revelation 21:8; Psalm 9:17. But their neglect of doing good to him and his people may be the “public” reason of condemning them:
1.Because he wished to give pre-eminence to those virtues, to excite his followers to do them.
2.People should be punished for neglect as well as for positive sin. Sin is a violation of the law, or refusing to do what God commands.
3.Nothing better shows the true state of the heart than the proper performance of those duties, and the true character can be as well tested by neglecting them as by open crimes.
If it is asked how the pagan who never heard of the name of Christ can be justly condemned in this manner, it may be answered:
1.that Christ acknowledges all the poor, and needy, and strangers of every land, as his brethren. See Matthew 25:40.
2.that by neglecting the duties of charity they show that they have not his spirit are not like him.
3.that these duties are clearly made known by conscience and by the light of nature, as well as by revelation, and people may therefore be condemned for the neglect of them.
4.that they are not condemned for not believing in Christ, of whom they have not heard, but for a wrong spirit, neglect of duty, open crime; for being unlike Christ, and therefore unfit for heaven.
One of the least of these - These on my right hand. My brethren. Those who are saved.
I am acquainted with a widow who has two small children to support, wholly by the use of her needle. She looks pale and careworn. All through the hard winter she has struggled to sustain herself and her children. She has received a little help, but who would feel any lack if a still greater interest were manifested in this case? Here are her two boys, aged about nine and eleven years, who need homes. Who are willing to give them homes for Christ's sake? The mother should be released from this care and close confinement to her needle. These boys are in a village, their only guardian their hard-working mother. They need to be taught how to work as their age will admit. They need to be patiently, kindly, lovingly instructed. Some may say: “Oh, yes, I would take them and teach them how to work.” But they should not lose sight of other things which these children need besides being taught to work. They need to be instructed how they shall develop good Christian character. They want love and affection, they need to be fitted to become useful here, and finally to be prepared for heaven. Disrobe yourselves of selfishness, and see if there are not many whom you can help and bless with your homes, your sympathy, your love, and in pointing them to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. Do you wish to make any sacrifice to save souls? Jesus, the dear Saviour, is preparing a home for you; and why will not you in your turn prepare a home for those who need it, and in thus doing imitate the example of your Master? If you are not willing to do this, when you shall feel that you need a habitation in the heavens, none will be awarded you. For Christ declares: “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.” You that have been selfish, studying your own ease and advantage all your life, your hours of probation are fast closing. What are you doing to redeem your life of selfishness and uselessness? Wake up! wake up! 2T 30.1
As you regard your eternal interest, arouse yourselves, and begin to sow good seed. That which you sow, you shall also reap. The harvest is coming—the great reaping time, when we shall reap what we have sown. There will be no failure in the crop; the harvest is sure. Now is the sowing time. Now make efforts to be rich in good works, “ready to distribute, willing to communicate,” laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that ye “may lay hold on eternal life.” I implore you, my brethren in every place, rid yourselves of your icy coldness. Encourage in yourselves a love of hospitality, a love to help those who need help. 2T 31.1
You may say you have been taken in and have bestowed your means upon those unworthy of your charity, and therefore have become discouraged in trying to help the needy. I present Jesus before you. He came to save fallen man, to bring salvation to His own nation; but they would not accept Him. They treated His mercy with insult and contempt, and at length they put to death Him who came for the purpose of giving them life. Did our Lord turn from the fallen race because of this? Though your efforts for good have been unsuccessful ninety-nine times, and you received only insult, reproach, and hate, yet if the one-hundredth time proves a success, and one soul is saved, oh, what a victory is achieved! One soul wrenched from Satan's grasp, one soul benefited, one soul encouraged. This will a thousand times repay you for all your efforts. To you will Jesus say: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” Should we not gladly do all we can to imitate the life of our divine Lord? Many shrink at the idea of making any sacrifice for others’ good. They are not willing to suffer for the sake of helping others. They flatter themselves that it is not required of them to disadvantage themselves for the benefit of others. To such we say: Jesus is our example. 2T 31.2Read in context »
Christ Himself Suffers With Suffering Humanity—Christ identifies His interest with that of suffering humanity. He reproved His own nation for their wrong treatment of their fellow men. The neglect or abuse of the weakest, the most erring believers He speaks of as rendered to Himself. The favors shown them are accredited as bestowed upon Himself. He has not left us in darkness concerning our duty, but often repeats the same lessons through different figures and in different lights. He carries the actors forward to the last great day, and declares that the treatment given to the very least of His brethren is commended or condemned as if done to Himself. He says, “Ye did it unto Me,” or, “Ye did it not unto Me.” WM 23.1
He is our substitute and surety; He stands in the place of humanity, so that He Himself is affected as His weakest follower is affected. Such is the sympathy of Christ, which never allows Him to be an indifferent spectator of any suffering caused to His children. Not the slightest wound can be given by word, spirit, or action, that does not touch the heart of Him who gave His life for fallen humanity. Let us bear in mind that Christ is the great heart from which the lifeblood flows to every organ in the body. He is the head, from which extends every nerve to the minutest and remotest member of the body. When one member of that body with which Christ is so mysteriously connected, suffers, the throb of pain is felt by our Saviour. WM 23.2Read in context »
Make Condition of Unfortunate Brother Our Own—When a man is struggling with honest endeavor to sustain himself and his family, and yet is unable to do this, so that they suffer for necessary food and clothing, the Lord will not pronounce our ministering brethren guiltless if they look on with indifference or prescribe conditions for this brother which are virtually impossible of fulfillment ... We are to make the condition of the unfortunate brother our own. WM 210.1
Any neglect on the part of those who claim to be followers of Christ, a failure to relieve the necessities of a brother or a sister who is bearing the yoke of poverty and oppression, is registered in the books of heaven as shown to Christ in the person of His saints. What a reckoning the Lord will have with many, very many, who present the words of Christ to others but fail to manifest tender sympathy and regard for a brother in the faith who is less fortunate and successful than themselves.... WM 210.2
If you knew the circumstances of this brother, and did not make earnest efforts to relieve him, and change his oppression to freedom, you are not working the works of Christ, and are guilty before God. I write plainly, for, from the light given me of God, there is a class of work that is neglected. WM 210.3Read in context »
There are some ...who have been standing in their own light. Some have been ready to discover the evil, and talk of the evil, but the good they have seen in their brethren they have not commended. Those who are ready to speak and think evil of their brethren are hurting Christ in the person of His saints. They grieve the heart of Christ, and place their own souls in jeopardy ... TDG 298.3Read in context »
He whom Providence has blest with plenty but who padlocks the door of his heart to keep back all generous impulses that would find expression in deeds of charity and kindness, will hear from the lips of the Master the solemn words, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me” (verse 45). Love of Christ cannot exist in the heart without a corresponding love for our fellow men.... HP 325.3Read in context »