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34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
When I was a kid I used to have a list of chores that I had to do after school before my parents got home. Being a good kid I would precisely calculate how long I would be able to goof-off and do nothing and still get my chores done. I also figured out ways to cut corners so that my chores would appear done even though the quality the work may have been sub-par. For example, I used to disconnect the head of the canister vacuum we had and run it over the carpet to make the lines in the carpet that would suggest vacuuming had occurred. This approach was much quicker than lugging the whole vacuum out and actually vacuuming. As a parent, I see these tendencies in my kids. I know exactly what is up when I give my kids a chore list to do while I am away and the first question is “what time will you be home?” I wonder if that is why God doesn’t reveal to us when He plans to return. I wonder if He knows that if we knew we would wait to the last minute to do the work He has set before us?
In today’s verses, Jesus is reminding us that we don’t know exactly when He will return. His exhortation is that while we are waiting we should be working . These verses challenge us not to fill up our days and moments with pursuits and endeavors that have nothing to do with God’s Kingdom, but rather we should spend our time working on things eternal. This doesn’t mean that we spend 24 x7 in a church, but it does mean that the motivation of every moment we have should be focused on Jesus and the Kingdom. I know it seems radical to say that every moment should flow from a motivation to serve Jesus, but I also believe that this motivation can be cultivated and matured as we commune with God in His Word and in prayer.
If you are like me, you might be asking why does it matter? What difference does it make if work or if I am lazy? To me it goes back to the analogy of my childhood. Looking back I really feel bad that I didn’t have respect for all that my parents had done and were doing for me. I didn’t really appreciate the fact that they fed, clothed, and lodged me. I didn’t appreciate the fact that because they went out and worked each day I was able to survive. I think our unwillingness to make Jesus the basis for all of our motivations and to reluctantly do or fail to do the work He has given us is symptomatic of the lack of appreciation for the work He has already done. The reality is that we only exist because of God. Does that really mean anything to us? How quickly do we forget that God left heaven to dwell among us? How quickly do we forget the ridicule and scorn He suffered? How quickly do we forget the cross? I think we have to meditate on these things and remember that so much work was done so that we can do the work that given to us. We have to remember that Jesus does not burden us with a chore list, but he invites us to join in with Him so that His Kingdom may be known.
Hear the Word of the Lord!
And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake. (Mark 13:37, ESV)
Heavenly Father, thank you God for your greatness and your majesty. Thank you God that you have granted us relationship with you through Jesus. Forgive our laziness and help us be mindful of you in all things. Help us remember that you loved us first and that your love allows us to be your children and citizens of the Kingdom. Thank you God for that love. We praise you! In Jesus’ name. Amen.