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How Can We Stay Spiritually Awake?
"Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them." - Luke 12:37, ESV
Surely every true believer wants to receive God's blessing and commendation on his or her life, right? Well, in today's reading, Jesus emphasizes the importance of remaining spiritually awake and ready when He returns. He contrasts this attitude with that of servants who would be found to be lazy, negligent or even abusive when the Master comes. Can you imagine the joy of the blessing Jesus pronounces in verse 37? The very idea that Jesus would come and serve His faithful servants while they recline at table should motivate us to want to be spiritually awake when He comes! No greater honor or privilege is imaginable!
So, how can we stay awake? As is so often the case with Jesus' teaching in the Gospels, if we will keep reading, we will often find the answer to our questions. Even things that might not seem connected at first fit together if we will just keep reading, thinking and praying. So what do we find when we read on in Luke 12?
1. We must not abuse the privileges of knowing Jesus and serving in His kingdom (vv. 41-48). Sadly, the type of servant described by Jesus in this paragraph is all-too-common in the kingdom of God, Many pastors, church leaders, ministry leaders, etc. have used their positions to abuse, exploit and even oppress the people of God. Jesus says that these people will be punished severely, and those who should have known better will be held to the highest standard.
Part of staying awake is to make sure we are not drifting into being this kind of servant but also to be alert and watchful against this kind of exploitation and to expose it for what it is. I have tried to do some of this at my other blog, and you may find these articles helpful:
Three Tests of a True vs. False Teacher
False Gospels: An Inventory
The Danger of Arrogance and the Arrogance of False Humility
Jesus Calling & the Big Question
The Harbinger: Misunderstanding Israel & America
2. We must realize we are in a war and be prepared to be rejected (vv. 49-53). Jesus does not call us to a comfortable life of complacency. He calls us to a fierce loyalty to Himself and His kingdom. He warns us and calls us to be prepared to be rejected. Part of staying awake is to never lose sight of the reality or nature of the conflict.
3. We need to be able to understand the times in which we live (vv. 54-56). We need to be able to understand our culture and its corruption and dangers. We need to be able to understand what the church's calling is as God's prophetic voice in the midst of a crooked and depraved generation.
4. We need to make things right when we do wrong and make amends quickly (vv. 57-59). Jesus does not expect us to be sinless. Part of being awake is to be aware of the times when we fail and to be quick to make amends, to repent and confess and seek to make things right.
Jesus tells us what He expects of us as His servants. He tells us what we're supposed to be doing and what we need to avoid. More importantly, he gives us His Holy Spirit to dwell within us and His people to walk alongside us. Together, by the power of His Spirit, we stand as His people in a corrupt, deceptive and intoxicating world. May the Lord give us grace to stay awake, aware, engaged and waiting, until He comes again!
Prayer Based on Psalm 122:
Lord, I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
What joy and what a privilege it is to stand within Your house,
among Your people, O Lord!
Your church is bound firmly together,
by the binds of Jesus love and by our union with Him.
The world needs to see Your church united in love for Christ,
united in glorifying You.
O Lord, may they be secure who love your church!
Peace be within Your church
May You bless Your people with peace and unity and fruitfulness, for Your glory!
A great hymn to pray along with Psalm 122 is "I Love Your Kingdom, Lord":
I love thy kingdom, Lord,
the house of thine abode,
the church our blest Redeemer saved
with his own precious blood.
I love thy church, O God!
Her walls before thee stand
dear as the apple of thine eye,
and graven on thy hand.
For her my tears shall fall,
for her my prayers ascend,
to her my cares and toils be given,
till toils and cares shall end.
Beyond my highest joy
I prize her heavenly ways,
her sweet communion, solemn vows,
her hymns of love and praise.
Sure as thy truth shall last,
to Zion shall be given
the brightest glories earth can yield,
and brighter bliss of heaven.