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Sheep or Goat?
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I always wanted to be one of Jesus’ lambs. The Good Shepherd stories appealed to my need for comfort and safety. I also loved the depictions of those lambs with their fluffy white coats and doe eyes. But goats didn’t fare so well and were often the “scapegoats.”

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left"  (Matthew 25:31-33).

Some Bible scholars believe this passage describes the last judgment and the division of all the people in the world based on the acts of kindness and mercy done to their disadvantaged fellow men. The good guys, on the right, are the sheep. The bad guys, the goats, are on the left.

Giving Person

People know me as a giving person. I like surprising the “less fortunate” with a trip to the store for food or clothing. My son says I’m invited to all the church wedding and baby showers because of my generosity. But … I’m selective.

 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me’” (Matthew 25:41-43).

I don’t see anywhere in that parable that the sheep merely gave water to sinless thirsty people or only invited people into their home who were hungry because of some natural disaster, not because they may have mishandled their money. There was no instruction on what types of nakedness we were to clothe. Maybe we’re only to visit people in prison who are innocent.

It’s clear that we choose whether we’re on the right or the left. I’m not asked to be selective, but to treat others with mercy and kindness.

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By Dee Litten Reed. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION ®.

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