Sunday, April 15, 2012

What Are You Doing?

"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? "Blessed [is] that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. "Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.
Matthew 24:42-47 NKJV

As I communicate each week with others who believe as I do that the return of our Lord for His church is fast approaching, one thing that we all agree upon is that events are occurring which are causing more and more believers to heed the command by Jesus to watch. Personally, because Jesus said that if we watch we will know when He is about to return, I believe even more is about to happen which will make it even more obvious to the world that the end is near.

Even as we who believe watch faithfully for His return, Jesus uses the parable above to tell us that there is more expected of us than just watching. I read every day of believers who are excited by what they see happening, yet get the feeling that they are so caught up in watching that it is possible they overlook the instruction Jesus gave to us about our responsibilities to perform while we watch. So today I thought I would share my thoughts about this parable and what I believe it says to me in the hope that it might help others to seek to do His will while we wait and watch.

First of all I think most of us would agree that Jesus is addressing this parable to His church, the body of Christ. This is certainly not the first time He has taught that He would leave this earth for a time and then return, but it does seem that He believes it's time to make sure everyone understands what is going to happen. In fact, this is the first of a series of parables He shares with His followers which are designed to focus their attention on the subject and to prepare them for His departure. In this first parable, I think He tells us that there are three responsibilities He requires of those who believe.

Be Prepared. While we watch, Jesus tells us to be “ready” for His return. The Greek word translated ready is “hetoimos” which means to “prepare, be ready”. Now if you think being ready simply means watching I think you miss the point. The word also means prepare, so obviously there is more to this than just watching. Having experienced the weddings of my daughters I can assure you that a lot of preparation went into those events and one of the first was a little thing called pre-marital counseling. Now many of us have experienced that and if yours was like mine and my daughters, one of the first things discussed was the fact that the Bible teaches love is a commitment and not a feeling. The reason I bring this up is that it seems to me that when Jesus tells us to be prepared, what He is telling us is that we need to examine our hearts to be sure He is in there! You see, I believe you can have God in your head, but not in your heart. The Bible tells us plainly that there are many who appear to believe, but it's head knowledge without the heart commitment to love Him and allow Him to come in and direct our path. We prepare by examining our hearts.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Be Sensible. As His servants, we are told He expects us to be faithful and wise. The Greek words translated faithful and wise are “pistos” meaning trusty, faithful and “phronimos” meaning intelligent, wise. Now since it is the servant who possesses both of these qualities who is given the most important task of the household while the master is away, I wondered what it was that made him different from the others? What I came up with to describe the servant God wants is simply a servant with “common sense”. The way I see it, being faithful refers to the actions of the servant while wisdom is the reason for them. In other words, the servant God wants is one who understands the plan, realizes it makes sense, and is faithful to carry out his responsibilities. We have already mentioned the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge and I believe this is how you can tell the difference. The servant with heart knowledge is sensible because he is faithful to act upon what he believes, while the person with only head knowledge does nothing. If we truly believe Jesus is the Son of God and died for our sins, why wouldn't we want to do what He asks of us? Wouldn't that be “sensible”?

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV

Be Obedient. Jesus tells us here that the task of the faithful and wise servant prepared to watch for the master to return is to feed the rest of the house their food at the proper time. I find the reference to feeding food at the proper time rather interesting, especially in the context of Jesus teaching about His return. I don't think too many would argue against the conclusion Jesus is talking about His Word when He refers to food, but it's the reference to a proper time for feeding that might be misunderstood. Truthfully I would find it hard to believe that someone would take the position that you should only study the Bible at a certain time, and God makes it clear elsewhere that we are to be constantly in His Word. So what does the reference to a proper time mean?

The word in the Greek for proper time is “kairos”, which is translated a) a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for, b) opportune or seasonable time, c) the right time, d) a limited period of time, e) to what time brings, the state of the times, the things and events of time. Now looking at this definition and looking at the context of the passage where Jesus is talking about watching for His return, it would certainly appear that the food and the proper time to feed it, are related to events we are told to watch for in relation to Jesus' return.

Some of my favorite memories of my daughters growing up were the times we went on vacation to a resort in Central Oregon. The house we would rent was close to a railroad and my youngest daughter loved to watch the trains along with me as they went by. At first she was amazed that I always knew when one was coming and walked her out to watch it go by, but eventually she figured out I was listening for the whistle far away as a clue it was coming. I think the message here in this passage is somewhat similar in that those in the body who are prepared and sensible will understand the signs of our Lords' return and share that understanding with others in the body.

"Blessed [is] that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.
Matthew 24:46 NKJV

What are you doing? Are you prepared to be a faithful and wise servant, or are you not aware of the signs of the times? It's not enough to just watch for His return, but to also explain to others what we see and just what it means.

Keep watching.