Opening questions and Prayer
What were some of the categories people got separated into in your school growing up? (preps, jocks, nerds, band geeks, cool kids, skaters, posers, etc.)
Which group were you in, and what did you think of kids in different categories?
What are some ways we put adults into categories?
How can putting labels on people, or groups of people, be damaging when we share the Gospel with them?
Pray that God would show you some of the biases you have towards certain people or groups. Ask Him to soften your heart as you study His truth.
Read Exodus 9:1
Exodus 9:1 (all verses are in the NLT unless otherwise noted)
“Go back to Pharaoh,” the Lord commanded Moses. “Tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so they can worship me.
Why does the Lord keep sending Moses back to Pharaoh?
What category might Moses have put Pharaoh in at this point?
Who does the Lord keep sending you to tell about Him?
How do you respond even if they don’t seem to listen?
Read Exodus 9:2-6
2 If you continue to hold them and refuse to let them go, 3 the hand of the Lord will strike all your livestock—your horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep, and goats—with a deadly plague. 4 But the Lord will again make a distinction between the livestock of the Israelites and that of the Egyptians. Not a single one of Israel’s animals will die! 5 The Lord has already set the time for the plague to begin. He has declared that he will strike the land tomorrow.’” 6 And the Lord did just as he had said. The next morning all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but the Israelites didn’t lose a single animal.
What is different about this plague than the other ones?
Why is the Lord introducing death into the plagues?
Why will the Lord make a distinction between the Israelites and Egyptians cattle?
What are some ways the Lord makes a distinction between His followers and those who don’t follow Him today?
How is the Lord calling you to live differently than the world around you?
Read Exodus 9:7
7 Pharaoh sent his officials to investigate, and they discovered that the Israelites had not lost a single animal! But even so, Pharaoh’s heart remained stubborn, and he still refused to let the people go.
How did Pharaoh respond when the plague hit as Moses said it would?
Why does Pharaoh investigate the Israelite’s livestock?
What are some ways people see the glory of God on display, but yet choose to not follow Him?
What are some ways you can help someone who continually turns away from the thing of the Lord?
Read Matthew 25:31-40
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
What categories does the King separate the people into?
What do those categories represent?
Why were the people on his right blessed?
What did their actions show about their hearts?
Who are some people you would put in the “least of these” category?
Read Matthew 25:41-46
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
Summarize what the King said to those on His left.
Why were the people on the left surprised at the King’s response to them?
What had the people on the left of the King missed about God’s Kingdom?
Who are some people in society that are overlooked?
Who are some people in your life that you overlook or actively avoid?
What is God calling you to do this week with those people?
Read James 2:14-20
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
Why does James say faith by itself is not enough?
How does true faith produce good deeds?
What’s the difference between doing good deeds to earn forgiveness and doing good deeds because you were forgiven?
This week, what is one good deed you can do for someone in need?
When will you do this, and who will remind you to do it?
Matthew 25:45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
Closing thoughts and prayer
We all have prejudices and biases in our life. We’ve separated people and put them into categories and decided that some people are worth more than others. Perhaps we’ve put ourselves in a spot where we feel we are superior to other people. Even when we do a study like this, we think of other people who do this, but rarely think of ourselves. Sometimes it’s a blindspot, but other times it’s just hard to admit that we are sinful people in some of these areas. The problems with our divisions of people is that we put people in a “least of these” category and then avoid them.
Jesus talks about a separation He is going to make at the end of times; a division of those who mistreated the least of these and those who treated them as He did when He walked this earth. This is not an easy teaching.
Right now, pray that God would show you some of the prejudices you have in your own life. Then pray for that person or group of people who you have put in a “least of these” category. Pray that God would give you the opportunity to share His love with them this week.
How would this plague have affected the Egyptian agriculture?
How was the Lord’s grace on display with the Egyptian people before the plague started?
How does the Lord show grace to those who do not yet know Him?
What were some ways the Lord showed you grace before you gave your life to Him?
How can you show grace to others who aren’t yet part of the Kingdom of God?
Why does Pharaoh’s heart remain hard?
What are some things that Pharaoh would have seen in his lifetime that made him hate the Israelite nation?
What are some things that have happened in our nation’s past that have caused people to hate certain people?
What did the people on the right inherit?
Why were they surprised at the King’s words?
When you think about the “least of these” what are some emotions and feelings that come to mind?
What are some biases you have toward the “least of these”?
What is difficult about reaching out and helping those in need?
Why did the people on the right help the “least of these”?
What is scary about this passage?
Why is it not enough in God’s eyes to just say we follow Him?
What actions does He expect to flow out of our softened hearts?
When was the last time the Lord prompted you to help someone, and you didn’t do it?
Why did the people on the left ignore the “least of these”?
What is difficult about admitting to our own prejudices we have towards certain people?
How might God be softening your heart to those people this week?
How do faith and good deeds go hand-in-hand?
What happens if you have one without the other?
How do good deeds that flow from faith show evidence of a soft heart?
How does faith without good deeds show evidence of a hard heart?
What are some struggles you have with this passage?
What are some ways you can make sure your good deeds flow from your love of Jesus, and not just because you’re trying to do some good things because you feel like you have to?