This site uses cookies to provide you with more responsive and personalized service and to collect certain information about your use of the site.  You can change your cookie settings through your browser.  If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies.  See our Privacy Policy for more information.

Daily Devotional | God with us: The Gospel of Matthew | Man fishing with a net. Daily Devotional | God with us: The Gospel of Matthew | Man fishing with a net.

Daily Devotional | God’s Presence in Serving Others

What if you had a mirror that didn’t just reflect your outward appearance, but could also reveal your inner self? The mirror would show how you interact with other people around you, particularly the least noticed and least cared for among us. This is like what Jesus does in Matthew 25:31–46, as He communicates a profound truth about recognizing His presence in those we meet as we go about our everyday lives.

Here, in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (vv. 31–40), Jesus surveys all the people from all nations, separating them into two groups: sheep and goats (v. 31). One is given “eternal punishment” the other “eternal life” (v. 46). Jesus uses a unique method to tell one group from the other; and He identified with “the least of these”—the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the prisoner (vv. 35–39). When we act in love to them, we encounter the living Lord Himself. By neglecting them, we turn our backs on Jesus and risk incurring future punishment.

Jesus calls us to be people of compassion. God’s presence is not only found in expected places, for example where we regularly meet to worship with other believers, but also through our humble acts of kindness toward others. We are to cultivate a heart of compassion toward “the least of these” (v. 40) because when we do reach out to those in need around us, we are doing it as if the recipient was Jesus Himself. The words of Jesus are both sobering and enlightening: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (v. 40). Jesus’ presence, then, is intricately intertwined with our actions and interactions with others, especially those on society’s margins.

Go Deeper

What was your reaction to the parable of the Sheep and the Goats? Which group better reflects your actions toward others? How can you cultivate a heart of compassion?

Pray with Us: Holy Spirit, teach us to recognize the presence of Jesus in others and be ready to help them. The parable of the Sheep and the Goats humbles us, as we see that Jesus identifies with “the least of these”—people we often avoid or neglect.

BY James Coakley

Dr. Jim Coakleyis professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute. He earned his BA in Pastoral Studies from Calvary Bible College, his M.Div. and Th.M. in Old Testament from Grace Theological Seminary, and his doctorate from Covenant Theological Seminary. Jim is the author of 14 Fresh Ways to Enjoy the Bible (Moody Publishers). He and his wife, Gayle, live in the western suburbs of Chicago and have two adult children and three grandchildren. 

Find Daily Devotionals by Month