Why Not Watch?

Matthew 25:13  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The Lord assures us He is coming, and calls us to be waiting and watching. He has also of late years given us a clear and scriptural understanding about His coming. He has shown to us the distinction between His "coming" and " the day; so that while "we see the day approaching," we have not to wait for any particular events to be fulfilled, for Christ Himself to come. Thus the faithful among the Jews by-and-by will be looking for "the Sun of Righteousness to arise, with healing in his wings," to introduce them to their long-foreseen day of blessing on the earth; we are taught now to look for "the Bright and Morning Star," to take us away from the earth, and translate us to glory. This must precede the rising of the Sun, which ushers in the day. The coming of the Lord for us to meet Him in the air, is then plainly distinguished from His coming in manifested glory with us to the earth. (See Mai. iv. 2; Rev. 1:1717And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: (Revelation 1:17); 1 Thess. 4:16, 1716For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16‑17); Rev. 22:1616I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. (Revelation 22:16).) But, with all this scriptural knowledge, why are we not more truly waiting and watching for Him?
In Luke 12 our Lord solemnly refers to this, and shows what may be the hindrances, and what will be the accompaniments, to our really waiting for Him as wise and faithful servants. As to the former, we may notice -
1st. Fears. If the heart be oppressed with the fear of man, or dread of circumstances, we shall of necessity be occupied with these things instead of the Lord. Hence our Lord said, " Fear not, little flock;י' and again, " Fear not them which kill the body.יי If the heart is thus dreading men and circumstances, unbelief is at work, something has come in between us and the Lord, and communion is interrupted. We are not, therefore, consciously in the circle of divine, unchanging, eternal love. Besides, "fear hath torment." It brings sadness, as well as leanness. Moreover, we are told, "the fear of man bringeth a snare." (Pro. 29:2525The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. (Proverbs 29:25).) The dwelling in the full consciousness of the Father's love, is the alone deliverance from fears. A verse in Psalm 34 has been paraphrased. "Fear him ye saints, and then ye shall have nothing else to fear." This is most true. Our Lord also said to His disciples, ×" Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But 1 will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear him, which, after he has killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea I say unto you, fear him." And, after assuring us that a sparrow is not forgotten before God; and that the very hairs of our head are ail numbered, our Lord graciously added, " Fear not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." (Vers. 4-8.) Surely, nothing could exceed the tenderness and care conveyed by such endearing words. The consciousness that the Father loves us as He loves His Son, and cares for us ία numbering the hairs of our head, will enable us to rise so superior to men and circumstances, that the love of the world will not be in us, neither will the fear of man, or any fear of evil oppress us æ for "perfect love casteth out fear." We shall heed the Savior's words, " Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." We shall be happily occupied by faith with our Lord Jesus Christ, and shall find it pleasant to watch and wait for His coming.
2nd. Cares. He who has been our Sin-bearer is now our Care-bearer. But if instead of casting all our care upon Him who careth for us, we bear the burden ourselves, we soon get away from the Lord. In the parable of the Sower, Jesus referred to cares hindering the power of the truth. "The cares of this world... choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful." (Mark 4:1919And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. (Mark 4:19).) The heart may thus become occupied with cares instead of with the Lord; and therefore not in a condition to be waiting and watching for His coming.
It is a mistake to suppose that it needs bad things, or trying things, to weigh heavily on our hearts as cares. Prosperity produces cares as well as poverty. On the one hand our Lord spoke of a rich and covetous man who said, "What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?" This was his anxiety; the burden on his heart was, how large and commodious the new barns should be: a fruitful source of leanness and unhappiness of soul. We fear it is far from being uncommon in this day of loud profession. It is self, a man laying up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God; and at a time, perhaps, when the Lord's tried and honored servants are groaning in secret before Him for necessary food and raiment. No marvel that our Lord said to such a man, "Thou fool."
On the other hand, the pinch of poverty is trying, and especially to such as have known "how to abound;" but our Father knows that, and He says, Do not be anxious. "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body what ye shall put on." If it be a question of food, look at His care even for unclean creatures—"Consider the ravens." If it be a question of raiment, see how He clothes the grass of the field, which quickly springs up, and is soon cut down and cast into the oven, yea, "Consider the lilies." Do not then be like the nations of the earth, "for your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things." (Ver. 30.)
The Lord's mind therefore is, that instead of these anxieties, we should be dwelling on our Father's perfect love to us in Christ, and seeking His glory and obedience to His will, as matters of the first and highest considerations: reckoning upon His care for the supply of food and raiment. If self be the motive, and not the glory of God; if doing our own will have the first place in our minds—if the Lord's authority, service, and the welfare of the members of His body claim our attention only in a secondary sense, it will not fee surprising that disappointment and distress follow.
The man of plenty so acting may find he has been laying up his treasure in bags which fail, and the one in poverty will resort to the world's contrivances of getting out of his difficulties, and instead of proving the Father's care and faithfulness, bring many sorrows upon himself. May we all heed the Savior's searching words, "seek the-kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you." (Ver. 31.)
3rd. The Treasure. What has been advanced leads to the heart-searching question as to where our treasure is? We know what it ought to be, but where is it? Is our treasure on earth, or in heaven? May we have grace to deal honestly with ourselves on this momentous question. We believe it to be the great question for the day; the all-important point for the heart-searching consideration of every child of God; for our Savior said, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Ver. 34.) Happy those who can truly say -" Jesus shall my treasure be, Now and through eternity."
Such are taken up with the Lord Himself. They know Him as the strength of their life and their portion forever. They know Him not only as a relief for the conscience, but as a resource on all occasions; not only as a refuge, but as the fountain of all blessing. They live by the faith of Him, they refer all to Him, and draw all they need from Him. Apart from Him, they see no beauty; and do not wish to be where He is not. His interests are their interests; His honor their honor; His reproach their reproach; His will their will. His glorious person; His accomplished work, His various offices, His goings forth from everlasting, His moral excellences and perfections have so won their hearts, that they can truly say -
"That with Thy beauty occupied,
We elsewhere none can see."
In a word, such have "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven." Thus much for the hindrances to watching for our Lord's return.
The accompaniments of waiting and watching are also brought before us in this chapter. No doubt He was then specially referring to the Jewish remnant, to whom His coming will be more in the suddenness of a thief, because it will be connected with judgment. But we are assured that we are "not in darkness, that that day should overtake us as a thief." (1 Thess. 5:44But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:4).) Still, though the remnant is specially referred to here, our Lord's reply to Peter's question, "Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?" gives ample warrant for our applying the great principles to ourselves.
There are then at least two practical ways which mark those who are truly waiting and watching for the Lord—girded loins, or service; and brightly burning lights, or testimony.
The idea that "seeing the second coming," as some call it, is all that scripture teaches is far beside the mark. And we have to fear lest this great and practical truth of scripture decline in us to mere knowledge of doctrine, however orthodox and important; for we hold it to be impossible to be really waiting and watching for God's Son from heaven, apart from practical ways of separation from the world, and devotedness to the Lord. The wise virgins had oil, and, with burning lamps, went forth to meet the Bridegroom. The hope of the early Christians was connected with serving the living and true God. The expectation our Lord gave to His disciples was, that He would come again and receive them unto Himself, that where He is, there they might be also, and He also said, "Occupy till I come." And so here our Lord's words are," Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord." (Vers. 35, 36.) Let us look for a moment at these two distinguishing marks.
1. The girded loins give us the idea that the person is ready for service; from which we learn that the Lord would not have us be merely talking of His coming, but that waiting and watching for Him should be connected with devotedness. His household, His gospel, His sheep and lambs will be objects of our interest,, concern, and care. Doing His will, going hither and thither to carry out His mind, or, like Mary sitting at His feet for necessary strength, wisdom, and grace, will occupy those who are really " as men that wait for their Lord." Elsewhere we read that the mark of the true and faithful servant is that he cares for the Lord's household, to give them meat in due season; concerning whom it is said, "Blessed is that servant whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, he shall make him ruler over all his goods." (Matt, 24:45-47) May we then be watching and waiting with girded loins!
2. Lights burning, or testimony for the Lord. All is darkness where there is no light; but even if a small light is introduced, what a marvelous change is produced, and how many things are made manifest! There is no mistaking a light in a dark place, unless people are blind. We are to shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life. We are not merely to abstain from evil, but to manifest the mind of Christ—to be for Him down here, in the sweet consciousness that He is for u3 up there. Those around will thus know that we are for the Lord, and that we take sides with Him in the very presence of those who reject Him,. This will entail self-judgment, self-denial, and the cutting off of much that would otherwise be tolerated. The lamp must be trimmed, and fully supplied with oil in order to burn well; everything must be laid aside that stands in the way of its shining brightly. The crust must be removed from the wick, and all hindrances to the light shining must be taken away. Every weight must be dropped, every impediment to the service of Christ and obedience to His will put away, and the heart be drawing constantly from the grace of God in Christ, if we would be shining as lights in the world.
Let none imagine, therefore, that if oppressed with fears, burdened with cares, and indifferent to the Lord's service, they can be as men that wait for their Lord. Those only who know that perfect love casteth out fear, and are careful for nothing, because they roll every burden upon Him who cares for them: those who rejoice in Christ Jesus as the treasure of their hearts, and therefore make His interests to be of first importance; those who are girded and active in doing the Master's will, and in refusing everything that hinders true testimony for Him; such are as men that wait for their Lord: such lovingly look up to Him and say u Come, Lord Jesus."
"For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." (Heb. 10:3737For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. (Hebrews 10:37).)