“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.” Matt 25 31-33
The familiar interpretation of these verses in Matthew is one of works of the flesh. This brings confusion to many believers, making it appear that if you are not doing good works you are not saved. Now while it is true, those who believe will produce good works. Good works are a fruit of salvation for a believer, not a root of our salvation. The Bible only teaches one way to be righteous, right with God, and it is by faith - HERE.
These verses in Matthew 25 are most likely talking about bringing the gospel to people, the word of life, not meeting the physical needs of hunger and thirst.
Those on the Left -“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; 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; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Matt 25:41-43
Hungry: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35
Thirsty: Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
Invite Me In: and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:11
Clothed Me: I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. Isa 61:10
Sick: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
Prison: But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Gal 3:22
Those on the Right – “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 foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was nakedand you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me prison.” Matt 25:34 -36
We know that non-believers just as well as believers can be found doing these kind acts in the flesh for others. The only difference is that the non-believer would not bring Jesus the bread of life, the living water and the gospel message of salvation. Therefore it is talking about unbelievers on the left.
On the right are believers who would bring Jesus, the bread of life, the living water, the gospel so the lost can be saved. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and all of our needs for food, clothing and the other things mentioned in the above verses will be met. When the Bible refers to the right side and those who are righteous, it is always without exception talking about those who are right with God by faith. Jesus is seated at the right hand side of the Father. The Bible teaches those who believe by faith are seated in Christ (Eph 2:6).
As a Christian, we should do the good things in the natural listed above, but we must also bring the bread of life, the good news of the gospel.
“Then they (on the left) will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous (on the right) to eternal life.” Matt 25:46