Devotion in Motion: An Open Letter to a Middle-School Mom

least of these

11 ¶ Even a child is known by his deeds, Whether what he does is pure and right. ~ Proverbs 20:11 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Dear Anne,

I hope you and Atticus have had a good week since my last letter. I’ve re-read it this morning, and I think my advice still stands: “When it comes to the developing faith of your children, PRAY—don’t panic.”

And after giving it some more thought, I’ve reached a conclusion. As parents, we are usually very poor judges of where our kids are in their relationship with God.  I have a good reason to believe that, because that is what the Bible teaches. Jesus said that individuals are not even good judges of their OWN relationship with God.

Take a look at this passage:

Matthew 25:31 ¶ “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.

32 “All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.

33 “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;

36 ‘I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?

38 ‘When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?

39 ‘Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

40 “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;

43 ‘I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’

45 “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’

46 “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

You’ll have to admit, it’s kind of an eye-opening story. The way I read it, there are a lot of people who are going to be surprised on the Day of Judgment. Some people will think they were awesome Christians in this life, and the Lord says He never knew them. And others who thought they never did anything for God will find out that they loved and served Jesus every day. What a nice surprise!

Whenever I read this passage, it always makes me want to re-think my relationship with Jesus Christ. Is showing compassion to others the habit of my life?

And there’s a wonderful flip-side to the story. Maybe our kids are just the kind of people that our God is looking for. Maybe their spiritual condition is better than we ever imagined.

Isn’t that a wonderful, comforting thought?

More next week,

Brother John

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 29 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where “Kissie” the pastorium-Siamese-cat has been making a lot of noise during the middle of the night and waking folks up this week.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).