For all you “Skittles” lovers out there, I have a question for you. When you enjoy a bag, do you keep the rainbow of flavors mixed together, or do you separate them out by color and flavor? For me, I guess it depends on whether I am using the bag of skittles as a meal replacement, or as a true dessert snack to take my time to enjoy!
I think Jesus may have separated His Skittles sometimes. In Matthew 25, He uses a parable to describe His eventual and triumphant return. He will sit on His glorious throne and all the nations will be gathered before him. Then He will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Those on His right (the sheep) will be invited to receive their kingdom inheritance prepared for them since the creation of the world. Those on His left (goats) will be sentenced to join the devil and his angels in eternal fire. Yikes!
I’m no rancher, but I think there is a clear difference between sheep and goats. Sheep tend to rely on their shepherd, learning how to flourish as a flock. Goats, on the other hand, can be a bit more stubborn and independent, focused only on their own desires.
Jesus concludes His teaching by sharing how His sheep consistently choose to treat others as they would treat Him. That is, His followers treat even “the least of these” as if they were ministering to Jesus. But in contrast, goats are only concerned for their own good, and only serve others when there is something they will receive in return.
In our recent all-school chapel, students were encouraged to embrace this teaching, and to release the character of Christ within them. Doing good to others is not a command to follow in order to be saved. Rather, doing good to others is the result of being saved! In a culture of “What’s in it for me?”, we are called as parents and teachers to help our children transform their hearts, renew their minds, and grasp this eternal selfless perspective. True sheep replace selfish independence with a dependence upon Christ living through us.
And as they demonstrate it, I suppose sharing an occasional package of reward “Skittles” could still be appropriate!
When I was growing up there was an older family friend who had an interesting beverage preference. Every time he had a glass of milk, he always put ice in it. How strange! For years I remember thinking how odd that was, and thus how odd he was. He tried to convince me to convert to his watered down ways, but was not successful. Yet later on in adulthood, I gave it a try. And you know what, I loved it! In fact, to this day, I will not drink a glass of milk unless it is literally ice cold. Now, if someone tries to convert me back to drinking milk like a normal person, I refuse that!
I have a love-hate relationship with change. I am a person who loves a routine that serves my priorities. But I also love an adventure and making things better. I am told that "people will not change until the pain of their circumstances exceeds the pain of change." What does that even mean?
Change can be painful. It requires saying goodbye to an old preference or way of thinking, and applying effort to embrace something new. The process often requires patience, perseverance, foresight, and grace. Yet circumstances can also be painful. Some circumstances can be downright nasty and hurtful. Other circumstances are simply a result of the nature of things, but can still feel unfavorable.
But all new circumstances offer an opportunity to change. Yes, we might hold out for a while, but it only prolongs the pain. When we make wise and appropriate adjustments in our lives in response to the situation God places us in, His joy and purposes are revealed and released.
As adults, we often find this principle hard to deal with. Now think about our children! Their entire life is a revolving door of circumstances that never stay the same. Nothing is constant. Their bodies, their minds, their family, their friends, and even their grade and their teacher, are always changing! All of this can be painful…even as they change. But it results in more and more Godly maturity and heart transformation.
As school starts with a new season of change upon us, may we all work together to embrace the fruit of change in our new circumstances. Our modeling of trust in God in all circumstances will be contagious to our children. The growth process of a disciple is rarely static, and developing character through change is so powerful! Still, if you don’t want your child to start putting ice in their milk, you probably should not invite me over to dinner!