2005-04-25 - Visito, Poto, Cibo, Redimo, Tego, Colligo, Condo
Matthew 25:40, "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even to the least of them, you did it to Me.'"
This is a phrase from a book I have been reading titled Anglozum Speculum, which was published in 1684. It is not really a religious book, but a chronicle of important, interesting or worthy people thoughout England. Don't look for the book. I believe it has never been republished, but I found this phrase interesting. Loosely translated, it means, "Visit those in misery, give drink to the thirsty, meat to the hungry, rescue the captive, cover the naked, dress the wounded, bury the dead." It is not a bad phrase, and not a bad summary of the compassion that we, as believers, ought to have. Of course, our compassion must surpass this, but that sure is a start and a good concise summary of how far our compassion should stretch. We are to love as we have been loved, and we have been loved much.
The author says that these seven thoughts/words stand before us like the seven planets, but that the duty to redeem captives, "stands as the sun in the midst of all the rest." He then goes onto ask why the Romanists, i.e., Roman Catholics, should be more charitable than those in the Church of England, and points out some of the charitable works that the Roman Catholics had done in England before they were kicked out. I am not going to touch on the Roman Catholic vs. Protestant debate. That is not the purpose of these devotionals, but I want to suggest that there is a lesson here for all of us.
The Roman Catholics were viewed by those in the Church of England as apostate, or non-Christian. The lesson for us all is to ask ourselves if the good works of someone who does not follow Christ should out-do the works that we do for and in Christ? I really don't care what label you put on as far as "religion" goes, but I do care that you follow Christ - and if you follow Christ, the question I just posed is one that we all have to reckon with. Should the one who does not follow Christ out-do us in mercy and compassion? Surely we see in Christ that He was loving, merciful, kind and full of compassion. If we are ambassadors of Christ, as it were, little Christs walking around, then our compassion is to seek to live up to His example, as much as is possible.
The passage in Matthew 25:31-46, often called the parable of the sheep and the goats, is very instructive here. Now I want to make it clear, as a preface, that salvation is only found in Christ, through faith in His atonement for sin on the cross. Salvation is not found in works, but is alone found in faith in Christ. It is Christ who saves, and Christ alone. What is interesting about this passage is that Christ phrases who is saved, and who is not saved, on a works basis. Of course, we have to take this passage within the scope of the whole of Scripture, and we know that Scripture as a whole gives a clearer picture of salvation than just this one passage provides. But this passage seems to base those who go to Heaven, and those who go to Hell, simply on what they did and did not do.
Mercy and compassion, even good works in general, are to flow out of our love to Christ for his mercy and compassion towards us when we were sinners, and deserved no compassion. However, those good works need to exist, and need to be flowing. If we don't see ourselves seeking the lost, or having compassion for our fellow creatures, it is a huge warning sign to us, and ought to drive us to consider where we stand before God. I encourage you to look at this passage today. I also encourage you to seek ways to share the love of Christ both in word and deed.
Soli Deo Gloria,