The Difference Between the Sheep and the Goats

by Curtis Lee Hall
Written June 13th, 2012

What is the difference between the sheep and the goats Jesus talked about? Was it only what they did or didn't do, or is there something much more to these verses than just works or the lack thereof?

Matthew 25:31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;
33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, `Come, you who are 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 something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
36 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, `Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
38 `And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
39 `When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?´
40 "The King will answer and say to them, `Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.´
41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, `Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been 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; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.´
44 "Then they themselves also will answer, `Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?´
45 "Then He will answer them, `Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me."

As far as I can remember, every time I have ever heard these verses talked, sang, or preached about, the lesson that seems to be drawn out is only what the sheep did, and what the goats didn't do. But is that what the Lord is really saying here? Is Jesus trying to get our focus on works and good deeds?

Notice that neither the sheep nor the goats seemed to be aware of what they did or didn't do? Both groups asked the same thing, 'Lord, when did we see you...?'.

The sheep were not aware of their works or good deeds. Likewise, the goats were not aware of their lack of works or good deeds.

The real difference between the sheep and the goats is that the sheep have love and show their love by their deeds, and the goats do not have nor show love. It is all about love.

The sheep naturally do the good deeds the Lord described, without the works being their focus. The goats lacked the good deeds, because they do not have the love of God in themselves.

The love in the sheep cause their faith to produce good works...

James 2:14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

1 John 3:17  But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18  Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

A sheep would not send a needy person away when it is in his power to help him. The love of God in the sheep cause them to reach out and do the works Jesus described in Matthew chapter 25.

1 Corinthians 16:14 Let all that you do be done in love.

Hebrews 10:24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

All you are required to do to be a sheep is to abide in the Lord Jesus. He promised us that if we abide in Him that we will produce much good fruit, and thus will be His sheep.

John 15:4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned."

The sheep abide in the Lord Jesus, the goats do not abide in Him. If we abide in Him, He is faithful to cause us to bear much good fruit. All we have to do is abide in Him. What a simple, and yet such a wonderful promise.

The good fruit that the Lord Jesus produces in us naturally causes us to do good deeds, because we will be full of His love and kindness.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Let the Lord Jesus make you into the sheep He desires you to be. Just abide in Him, and He will do the rest.

- by Curtis Lee Hall

All scripture taken from the
New American Standard Update
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