The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3 NLT
When I was a little boy, way back in the nineteen hundreds, I remember singing the song in cradle roll, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see, oh be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above is looking down in love. Oh be careful little eyes what you see.” You may remember the song then went on about ears being careful what they hear, and hands being careful what they do, since we all know God is watching us.
It is a sobering reality, that God is watching us.
Just a couple weeks ago, I read where a family going through the drive thru at a fast food restaurant, was accidentally given a sack with that day’s deposit money instead of their food! They realized later, when they opened their bag, that instead of it being filled with french fries and burgers, it was filled with over two thousand dollars in cash! The family returned the money, saying that they were Jehovah Witnesses and they knew God was watching them. They remind me of my Jehovah Witness friend in Texas, who is a very honest caring person. I applaud our Jehovah Witness friends for their integrity.
Even though they say the returned the money because they knew God was watching, I imagine, being the wonderful people that they are, that they would have returned the money even if He wasn’t. I mean, do we only do good because God is watching? If so isn’t that very legalistic and works orientated, to only do good so long as there is a God Who watching and waiting to reward our good behavior and punish our bad behavior?
Jesus is telling a story in Matthew 25:34-40 NLT.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
I am compelled to believe that not only did these people not have a clue they were helping Jesus, I also sense they were helping the needy with no clue that there would be any reward whatsoever. Their response tells me they were not expecting a reward of any kind. They seem to be surprised that Jesus even knew about any of this. Its not that they don’t know God sees everything, but while they were helping others, they had mercy on their mind and not a video recorder preserving their good deeds to be replayed and rewarded.
Jesus gives us this illustration to let us know, we should work for Him out of love for His great sacrifice, and not for a reward from God watching our every move.
When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.” Luke 17:7-10 NLT
I believe those Jesus commends in Matthew 25 felt they were simply doing their duty out of love, and never considered themselves candidates for any type of reward in this life, or the hereafter.
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Without a proper understanding of what the entire Bible says about death, it would be possible to get the idea from Luke 16:19-31 that when we die we go straight to heaven or straight to hell. When we study the Bible the way it suppose to be studied, “line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” Isaiah 28:10, we understand that when we die we rest in our graves asleep, not knowing anything until Jesus returns and wakes us up. If we take the story of the rich man and Lazarus literally then we have a contradiction as to what happens when you die, as the rich man in the story dies and goes straight to hell. Here are some things to remember while reading this story to keep us from being confused.
Jesus tells this parable in the midst of other parables in Luke 15 and 16. Jesus is only using this story to make a point and was not meant to be taken literally. Jesus was telling this story to Jewish leaders and so He told it in a way to get their attention. For example, they were big believers in Abraham, so in the story Lazarus goes to Abraham’s bosom. Obviously, not only do we not go straight to heaven or hell when we die, we also do not go to Abraham but to Jesus. This is an obvious sign this story is not meant to be taken literally. The Rich man asks for water to be sprinkled on his tongue. Again if this was literal, what good would a few drops of water do? At the end of the story Jesus makes the point that if they did not believe already they would not believe though someone rose from the dead. Here Jesus makes the whole point of the story. Jesus picked the name Lazarus in His make believe story, to remind them that one named Lazarus did indeed rise from the dead and they still did not believe. And of course the real Lazarus who rose from the dead had no tales to tell from the grave as he had been dead and asleep the whole time.
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