There’s an old fable that tells about three apprentice devils who were sent to earth by Satan to finish their apprenticeship. The Devil asked them about their plans to tempt people and lead them astray.
The first demon said, “I will tell them there is no God.”
Satan said, “That will not delude many, for they know there’s a God.”
The second said, “I will tell men there is no hell.”
Satan replied, “You will deceive some that way.”
The third said, “I will tell men there is no hurry.”
Satan excitedly responded to him, “Go, and you will ruin them by the thousands.”
Sadly, many people will be lost because of neglect, disregard, and spiritual lethargy. Maybe this why there are so many warnings regarding spiritual inattention.
In today’s Bible reading, Jesus speaks regarding his second coming and says no one knows when it will be. No man. Nor the angels. Not even Jesus Himself. And while many have speculated through the centuries and predicted exact times and dates, all have been proven false.
Jesus does, however, offer a word of caution to us. Three times Jesus warns with the word “watch.”
Twenty-two times this exact word is used in the New Testament. It means “to keep awake. To give strict attention to. Be cautious” It’s translated in various passages as “watchful.” “Alert.” “Vigilant.” “On guard.” And “Awake.”
Paul told Timothy to “be watchful in all things.”
To the Corinthians, he urges, “Be watchful, stand firm in your faith” (1 Cor 16:13).
And Jesus admonished the apostles and by implication and application all of us, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mk 14:38)
We must be awake to Satan’s schemes to trip and trap us. Unwholesome entertainment. Lurid literature. Internet pornography. Trashy TV shows. Raunchy music. And anything else that appeals to lustful thoughts, lewd feelings, and lascivious actions.
Of course, it’s not always evil allurements that weakens our watchfulness and lead us away from the Lord. If we’re not careful, we can just get caught up in the busyness of life. Work. Family. Politics. Pleasure. And we become spiritually distracted.
Ironically, even “church work” that becomes an end within itself with its programs, policies, and procedures can cause us to lose sight of the big picture. Our pride, personal feelings of righteousness, and failure to “take heed lest we fall,” can cause us to let our guard down. Good men and women who love the Lord have become entangled in affairs because they weren’t watchful of their emotions, attitudes, and interactions.
Be alert. Christ is coming again. When? No one knows. Not the angels. Not even Jesus Himself. Prognosticators through the centuries have predicted the second coming. But they’ve all been wrong. Many have ignored Jesus’ plain statement: “You do not know when the time is.”
After warning about the darkness of sin and the certain second coming of Jesus, the Bible exhorts Christians, “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess 5:6).
Be attentive to your spiritual responsibilities. Be awake to the devil’s deceptions. Be aware of your own weaknesses. Be alert to the Lord’s return at any time.
“What I say to you I say to all, Watch!”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman