I never knew you

Who are you working for?

Matthew 7:21-23

The sermon on the mount

A girl wearing pink wellington boots is walking away, looking sad.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ — Matthew 7:21-23 ESV

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. &mdash Colossians 3:23-24

The saddest words you could ever hear are Jesus saying, “I never knew you.”

There are two contrasting readings above. The first show people working in Jesus’ name being turned away. The second from Colossians is about how a Christian should work for an employer, saying if you work as if you were working for God then God will reward them. So what is going on here? Work for God, prophesy, cast out demons and do mighty works in the name of Jesus and get nothing, yet work for an ordinary employer and get God’s reward. It’s all backwards, isn’t it?


The Matthew passage comes straight after saying that you will know who to follow by the fruit they produce, it’s about motivation. Are you really serving God?

The test is not in saying, “Lord, Lord,” and not obeying his commands. Nor is it in doing God’s work to build yourself or your reputation. If your motivation is your reputation, or money, or to have a comfortable life and you achieve that then you have already received your reward, do not expect another one in heaven.

If your motivation is to please God and glorify God in what you do then it does not matter if your job is preaching the Gospel, in one of the caring professions some Christians call a vocation or working on the tills at Tesco. God rewards those who put him first.

Luke says that Jesus sent 72 of his followers out to preach. They came back amazed, rejoicing that even evil spirits fled when they prayed. Jesus told them not to rejoice that the spirits fled, it was not their power that did it. Instead, he told them to rejoice that their names are written in Heaven. Your name is not written in heaven because of anything you have done, Neither is mine or anyone else’s. Our names are written in heaven because of what Jesus has done for us, because God is good and that he loves us. (Luke 10:20).

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