The Standard You Walk Past
Jun 26, 2022 1392
What you tolerate in your life will reflect its outcome.
In 2013, Lieutenant General David Morrison of the Australian Defence Force made the powerful observation that “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.”
He said this in the context of unacceptable behaviour in the defence force. However it applies to every aspect of our lives.
Jesus never did walk past injustice without making it right. Jesus never walked past suffering without soothing it with compassion. Jesus never walked past an empty heart without filling it. While you and I aren’t Jesus, he expects us to do the same within our own capabilities.
Jesus gave us a very powerful teaching about this in Matt 25:31–46. He taught that when he returns in his glory, all the nations will be gathered before him. He will separate the people into two groups: the sheep and the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Jesus identifies with those considered to be the least among us. He doesn’t walk past them.
Those on the king’s right will be invited to inherit the kingdom prepared for them since the creation of the world. He will say to them,
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, 36 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.)
That the king would be hungry, and a foreigner, naked, sick and in prison is strange, isn’t it? The sheep, who are the righteous find it strange too. That’s why,
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “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.)
Jesus identifies with those considered to be the least among us. He calls them his brothers and sisters. This is what God coming to earth in Christ’s humanity was all about. We call this the “incarnation,” which comes from a Latin term meaning “in the flesh.” He doesn’t walk past us.
You will never treat Jesus better than you treat the most marginalised and neglected members of your society.
Today, God is in the flesh among us everywhere in a spiritual sense. As it was with Jesus, God is unrecognised among us today.
There is a powerful lesson here. You will never treat Jesus better than how you treat the most marginalised and neglected members of your society.
Then Jesus’ teaching continues:
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me’ (Matt 25:41–45.)
Surprisingly, the ones on the king’s left are condemned, not for what they do, but for what they don’t do. They walked past those who didn’t have enough to eat and didn’t help to feed them. They just walked past refugees and didn’t welcome them. In the Bible, that’s precisely who “strangers” are.” They walked past those who were sick in their society and didn’t do anything to help. They walked past those in prison and didn’t care about them.
These people weren’t condemned for what they did, but for what they didn’t do. They just walked past.
These are the people who stood condemned by God in Jesus’ day, and they still stand condemned today: not for what they did, but for what they didn’t do.
It is just like the parable of the good Samaritan. The priest and the Levite were condemned because they didn’t stop to help the injured man (Luke 10:25–37.)
It’s the most natural thing in the world for us to justify ourselves in our sinful, fallen natures. We do it based on our personal preferences, our culture, our education, our politics, and even our religion. But there is no justification for walking past someone in need.
This is so important that in the gospel of Matthew, it is the very last parable Jesus told before the final events of the Cross. How important is it to you?
– Eliezer Gonzalez