The warm, summer evening sun was just beginning to set over the horizon. Young Avi was helping his father herd the sheep into a walled enclosure for the night so that they would be safe. Avi’s father had a large herd of sheep and goats, but only the sheep needed to be put into the enclosure for the night.
Perhaps Jesus was on a similar mountainside teaching the people who followed Him. Maybe He watched shepherds as they worked to separate the sheep and the goats for the night. In Matthew 25:31 Jesus said: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right, and the goats on his left.”
It’s not always easy to separate sheep from goats. A good shepherd needs to be able to tell the difference between the two. Many times sheep and goats look, smell, and even sound the same. It’s easy to get confused.
Jesus also tells us in Matthew 25 how we can recognize “sheep people,” because many times “sheep people” and “goat people” look the same, wear the same clothes, say the same words, and go to the same places.
The difference Jesus is looking for is how we treat people around us. The “sheep people” don’t know they are “sheep people.” They say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you?” (Matthew 25:37). “Sheep people” help other people when they see someone struggling. In Jesus’ story the goats think they are good people too. But we have to do more than just be good. We have to love others, too.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love,” (1 John 4:8).
Gerald Christo, or “Pastor Noy,” ministers to the youngest members of the Southern Asian Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland.
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