NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the YOU curriculum.
Bible Passages: Matthew 25:31-40
Discussion Questions: How have you been the hands and feet of Jesus? How would you respond to someone who tells you your contribution doesn’t matter?
Food for Thought:
Congratulations, it’s your serve! But, be forewarned: The work is strenuous; there’s no glamour involved and sometimes, it can be downright humiliating. Blessings are the reward for plowing through. For some, that’s sufficient. We find joy in simply being the hands and feet of Jesus.
For the same amount of work, many of us would much rather elevate ourselves — chasing a prestigious job title, earning a trophy for physical prowess, or seeking the esteem that comes with a high social rank. Entitlement is our focus. For too long our society has tempted us saying, “You deserve it. You want it. Make sure you receive it.” Whatever “it” is, people still aren’t happy, just weary from pushing their way to the top — without meeting a single need of others.
What incentive is there to serve? Today’s study demonstrates that when it comes to being the hands and feet of Jesus, no service is insignificant. Your service matters, no matter how small!
Matthew 25:31-46 is best taken as a literal description of the final judgment. The King, Jesus, will judge people based on their reception and treatment of the least of His brothers. It begins with Jesus’ discourse to the disciples on this topic. He uses the analogies of “shepherd,” “sheep” and “goats.” Shepherd and sheep are commonly used to represent Jesus and His followers. Sheep have mild temperaments, need leadership, and enjoy their shepherd’s protection. They listen to His voice. Jesus’ analogy is spot on. However, in this passage, goats symbolize unbelievers. Goats and sheep often grazed together, but the herds had to be separated because of the male goats’ aggressiveness.
The significance of the separation of the peoples is found in the statement that Jesus “will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left” (v. 33). In this context of separation, the “right” was the position of honor and benefit while the “left” was the position of shame and destruction. Those in the position of honor and benefit will be invited by the King to join Him in the kingdom.
As we look over the activities Jesus commended and gave as the rationale for the “sheep” to be brought into the kingdom (vv. 35-36), it should strike us that no great or earth-shattering works are listed. What we do notice is that every one of the listed activities is something simple, something you and I and almost everyone else can do. Each act of service matched the need. Likewise, when we see needs, we ought to do our best to match our service to those needs.
After exploring Jesus’ examples, consider inviting the Holy Spirit to soften your heart toward others. Hopefully, you’ll soon be able to say, “Thank you Jesus; I get to serve.” Congratulations, it’s your turn!
Intentionally focused on African American, urban and multicultural believers, YOU is biblically based with culturally relevant and affirming lessons to help people connect, grow, serve, and ultimately be engaged in impacting the world for Christ. This flexible, non-dated all-in-one quarterly resource offers weekly Bible study for leaders and learners, devotionals, and teaching plans, as well as articles on hot topics and missions. For additional online teaching resources, visit LifeWay.com/YOU.
Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.