I was doing my usual Monday morning stuff. One of the things I was doing was separating clothes in different piles so I could wash them. Now I separate probably more than I should. The same color or close resemblance, good clothes, everyday clothes, etc. I have several small piles. One morning as I was separating my clothes a certain scripture came to mind.
“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’ “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’ “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’ “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’ “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.” Matthew 25:31-46
I sort by color and by its use. Is it every day clothes are they good clothes? After thinking about this scripture I am so glad God does not sort us by color. We are all one color in God’s eyes. I am glad God does not separate us by our nationality. He reminds us in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I am glad he doesn’t sort us by male and female. We are all the same.
I am choosy about how I sort clothes. I have piles everywhere. God is not as choosy as I am. I am so glad God isn’t as choosy as I am. It doesn’t matter how badly or dirty we think we are God will take us all if we just ask Him to. We first ask for forgiveness then He wraps His arms around us and takes care of us. There is nothing in our lives that will keep us from God if we just ask and turn from our wicked way. His grace is deeper than your worse mistake.
He will sort us out like a shepherd separates goats and sheep. There are just two animals listed; sheep and goats. There are not more than two choices. We are either goats or we are sheep. It’s pretty plain and simple to Him; no third choice.
Now as I was thinking about this I wanted to know the difference between sheep and goats. This is what I found out. “Sheep and goats usually exhibit different behavior. Goats are naturally curious and independent, while sheep tend to be more distant and aloof. Sheep have a stronger flocking instinct and become very agitated if they are separated from the rest of the flock. It is easier to keep sheep inside a fence than goats.” From Sheep101.info
So I am beginning to understand why Christ decided to use sheep and goats. Goats like so many of us have a tendency to be curious and independent. We don’t like to be corralled. We want our independence. If that is true it would be harder for goats to get into Heaven. I was a goat once. I wanted my independence. I wanted to run freely. I wanted to be in control, but I soon found out as an adult that didn’t work out real well.
Sheep are more distant and aloof. The word aloof often means reserved or detached. I wondered how that fit in with our scripture. Then God spoke to me. We are to be detached from this world. We are to live in it, but we are not to attach ourselves to it. We are to reserve ourselves for the life God has for us. To the world Christians may seem distant and maybe we are. We are distancing ourselves from the world and all that turns our focus off of God.
Sheep have a flocking instinct. God planned for us as Christians to stick together; to flock to one another. That was for a reason. It’s so we can be there for one another; to lift each other up when we are down, or to cry with us when we cry, or rejoice with us in our praises. I know when I have not been with my Christian friends I get agitated and long for fellowship with them. When I am separated from them I lose out on so much. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
That’s the same way with God. When I walk a different path and I am separated by God because of my actions not His I often find myself agitated and long to be back in fellowship with Him. I don’t do well when I have separated myself from God. I need to stay as close as I can.
So, all this boils down to one day we will be separated like sheep and goats. Those who are willing to give up their independence and give God control of their lives with live with Him. Those who demand independence and following their own path will be separated from God. They will miss out on His love and all those wonderful things He has in store for us.
Once again as I read this scripture it will come alive and have even a deeper meaning for me. I usually glanced over the sheep and goats and went straight to the “those that do and those that don’t” message, but there is a challenge for us as we think about being separated like goats and sheep. Are you a goat or are you a sheep? Once again only two choices and one we must make.
Dear God: I wonder if you created sheep and goats just so you could give me this message. I wonder if you created in them these character traits for a reason. Whatever the reasoning is you have once again taught me a lesson. Separating clothes is nothing like what you will be doing when you separate me from the others. I must choose to be a goat or I must choose to be a sheep. My desire is always to be a sheep, but I think every now and then I get confused and become a goat. Let me live my life less as a goat and more like a sheep. Thanks for reminding me your grace is bigger than my worse mistake. Guide my path and may I always be with you and not be separated from you. Amen