I have been taking care of my daughter and son-in-law’s pet dog this weekend, her name is Mia and she is such a cute little pooch. I just love her and so taking care of her is no problem, mostly. I have to keep her away from my son who is really allergic to dogs and I must admit that I find myself coughing more when Mia is around me but I still love taking care of her. She is so soft to pet as her fur is long and silky to the touch. She is a Chin breed and very small for her breed. I have seen other Chins that are more than half larger than she is. She is so dainty in all that she does too, such a joy to be around. She never barks and has been trained very well by my daughter and her husband which makes her even more of a joy to take care of. Today more than ever it seems that many people have pets that they are really attached to. Pets have been a part of households for centuries and I find it interesting that they are never mentioned in the Bible. Many animals are mentioned but never pets that I can find. And yet some of our most loyal friends and comforts are our beloved pets. I do believe that we are not to elevate a pet above other humans when it comes to relationships but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be comforted by having a pet to take care of in our lives. When I think of Mia I realize how dependent she is on humans for her very life. She is older and not suited for being an out-of-doors dog. She can’t help to work cattle or sheep but she can make certain to raise an alarm if an intruder is in her home. Before alarm systems and locks for doors I am sure that being a guard dog would have been an important asset to the household. Mia also reminds me of a scripture that has absolutely nothing to do with pets and everything to do with the righteous and the unrighteous.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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.’ “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.’
“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. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 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.’ “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?’ “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.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46, (New International Version or NIV).
Separating the sheep from the goats is something most of us are not really familiar with but the people who heard this parable would understand. Sheep and goats can graze together without many problems but when it comes time for breeding I suppose it is best to separate them so that the bloodline of both stays within the same species. They are animals that both produce meat for eating and milk for drinking or using to make cheese. They are useful animals but Jesus teaches us in this parable that the sheep are His and the goats belong to the world. In other scriptures Jesus says that He is the Good Shepherd and His sheep hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:14 and 27). The goats, however do not belong to Jesus and do not listen to Him or obey His voice (John 10:26). This is a parable to teach those who hear Jesus’s voice that a day of judgement is coming and we need to live our life here on earth with that day in mind because it helps us to continue to do good and righteous deeds. We do these deeds not because we have to but because we love Jesus so much and want to honor Him by obeying Him. It is something the goats or the world just don’t understand because everything they do is to fulfill their own desires. There are some worldly people who do good deeds because it makes them feel better about themselves but when you see their motivation you often see a need for others to praise them. But a follower of Jesus does good deeds quietly and often anonymously to please Jesus and God rather than others (Matthew 6). My favorite verse from this passage is:
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.’
I just love these verses because it reminds me to be kind and compassionate to every person I meet. It reminds me that I am no better than anyone else. It reminds me to remain grounded in the love of Jesus and to pass that love on to others graciously and kindly. It reminds me that one day I will be judged and I want to hear that I am a sheep and not a goat. I also think of a person that is kind to animals as a person who is kind to people. When I see such a lovely little pet as Mia it reminds me to be kind to her and take good care of her as well. After all she is one of God’s creatures and she is so small and so in need of good care that she could be considered one of the least of these. Oh I know that she is not a human, not an angel, but just a little dog that needs loved and cared for until her master comes for her and takes her home. I am also just a little old woman who needs loved and cared for by my God until my Master comes and takes me home to heaven also. I am one of the least of these just as you are one of the least of these and we need to take care of each other until our Master comes to take us home.