“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” Matt: 25:35, 36 NIV
(This devotional is a repeat from 2016 but its message is timeless and worth reviewing this week)
Years ago, Randy Kilgour, a devotional writer I used to read, called this passage ‘God’s Performance Evaluation’. During my years as an HR consultant, I noticed that performance evaluations were one of the most misunderstood and under-utilized tools in the management toolbox. Most employees feared them, and managers and business owners saw them as a necessary annoyance. In spite of these attitudes, almost everyone in the organizations that I talked to wanted to know, “How am I doing? Can I improve? Is there something I am not doing that I should? The desire for accurate feedback on our performance seems to be hardwired in most of us.
Because of this, I have always felt that performance evaluations, when done properly, provide a platform for rewarding and encouraging high performers, identify training needs or course corrections for mid-performers and supply objective data for dealing with low-performers.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells three parables that utilize three different criteria for God’s performance evaluation. The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Are we living a watchful life ready for Christ’s return?), the Parable of the Talents (Are we using the resources given to us wisely in a way that will please God?); and finally, the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (How do we treat the poor, the hungry, the sick amongst us?).
When most of us reflect upon the people mentioned in Matt 25:35,36 we may find it hard to relate to them. Many of us in the Corpath community have led successful lives. But as Kilgour points out:
“One of the great temptations of comfortable living is our belief that we’re comfortable because of our own labors. This leads to another great temptation, the belief that those who aren’t comfortable are always to blame for their own circumstances.
We’re too coy to say it out loud, but we think the poor are poor because they didn’t try hard enough, that the homeless are homeless because they want to be, or because they’re lazy or because they’re all on drugs. We think the sick are sick because they didn’t take care of their bodies, and the debt-ridden are debt-ridden because they didn’t manage their money well. We think the unemployed are unemployed because they didn’t work hard enough, didn’t train themselves well enough or aren’t looking hard enough for work. We think those things with smug self-congratulations for avoiding those traps ourselves. …until the roof caves in.
It is often only then that we discover that struggle and trials are not always the result of sin or negligence or laziness or lack of effort or initiative.”
When Jesus completes our performance evaluation, He is going to ask questions that may be unexpected. He may surprise us the way he surprises the faithful (and the unfaithful) in Matthew 25. He may ask questions such as:
- Did the products you produce honour God, or did you at least produce them in ways that honored him?
- Did you pay attention to the way your workers treated those who failed or faltered?
- Did you help the unemployed find work?
- Did you pay a living wage to your workers?
- Did you serve the people that worked for you, or did they only serve you and your goals?
- Did you value your employees as human beings and not just for how they produced?
- How did you deal with employees who hit a “bump in the road of life”, a debt problem, addiction, family trouble, etc.
The surprise in the Matthew 25 performance evaluation, is that Jesus reveals that when we react to those who struggle with life’s pitfalls, it is as if we are reacting and serving Him – and we will be judged accordingly.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matt. 25:37-40
- In light of Matthew 25, examine your attitudes toward the unemployed, the homeless, the sick, the imprisoned.
- As you read through God’s performance evaluation, are you a high performer, mid-level or low performer?
John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – firstname.lastname@example.org