Waiting, Watching, Working
Question: What bearing has Luke 12:34-48 upon us, who are looking for the Rapture of the church at the first stage of the Lord's coming?
It sets before us in the Lord's own words, our responsibility during His absence from this world, and the rewards for faithfulness. Three things are to mark us: readiness, expectancy and activity; we are to be waiting, watching, and working.
Question: What is the meaning of the figures used: loins girded and lights burning?
The lights burning show that it is night, the night of the Lord's absence, and the tendency is to ungird and go to sleep at night, but in a spiritual sense we must not do that; for while we are in the night we are not of it, but "we are children of the day . therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:5,6). The loins girded and the light burning indicate readiness to move at the word of the Lord; there must be no scrambling and scurrying when He comes; we are to be like unto men that wait for their Lord.
Question: Does the watching of verse 37, to which a special blessedness is attached, indicate something better than simply waiting?
Both have their place, but watching means expectancy, the heart is engaged. A servant might be quite ready for his master's return, as simply obeying a command, but if he is watching, it shows that his master's return is absorbing his thoughts. But with the Christian the two must go together; if the heart is not right towards the Lord, the loins will become ungirded and the light will grow dim.
Question: What of the next section, where the faithful servant feeds the household, and is also called "blessed": is that evidence of greater devotion?
It shows us the servant in his activities and runs on with the waiting and watching; the three things give a complete description of a servant altogether pleasing to the Lord. I might illustrate these three things. The mother of a family has been compelled to leave her home for a while, and it and the younger children are left in charge of Mary, her mother's trusted daughter. She has told them that she will not tarry when her business is finished, and they are expecting her daily. With this expectation bright in her heart Mary keeps the home clean and tidy, so that when the mother does return she may find everything ready, the home clean, the children dressed and waiting.
But they are not only ready but expectant; often they run to the door or peer out of the window for the first sight of the returning mother, and as the days go by Mary becomes more eager than them all. Yet she does not forget her mother's wishes; she sees that the children are fed and she does not allow them to forget that mother is coming; she actively cares for her mother's interests, idling not for a moment. Between her journeys to the door and window, she slips first into this room and then into that, to see that nothing is out of place, and she keeps her eye on her brothers and sisters, for she does not want to be ashamed of them before her mother when she returns; she waits and watches like them all, but she diligently works as well. She does everything as she feels her mother would if she were there. She is faithful to her trust.
Blessed is Mary when her mother returns. She has a twofold joy; her mother is back again, and smiles her approval on her little daughter.
Question: Do the rewards of which the Lord speaks show the measure of His appreciation of the faithfulness of His servants?
Yes. I will continue my parable to illustrate this. Mary has the joy of her mother's presence and the satisfaction of her mother's approbation. But now the mother's turn has come. She makes Mary sit down at the table, and all the children, for they were all alike longing and watching for her return, and she brings out the good things she has brought for them; they feast together, but the mother serves. Her delight in being with her children, and the pleasure in their love that made them long and watch for her return, makes her their servant now. But what a reward that feast is to Mary; she has it as a secret understanding between her mother and herself, and a special mark of her mother's approval. This is the way the Lord proposes to recompense His watching servants in verse 37. "Verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. "
Question: What is the difference between that, and 'We will make him ruler over all that he hath" (verse 44)?
The service of love rendered to His watching servants, seems to be inside the house. It is a private festival that the world won't see. It is love answering to love. It is love in the hearts of His servants that leads to this expectancy and watching, and love in the heart of the faithful Lord will lead Him to show His appreciation of that love that did not forget Him during His absence. But the making him ruler of all that he hath is a public honour for public service; the servant is rewarded openly for his faithful service by a place of trust in the kingdom. Both are blessed, but the latter would not be greatly valued without the former.
Question: Before leaving this Scripture, please explain what the Lord says about the unfaithful servants in verses 45-48.
The servant evinces his reality by his conduct and vice versa. Many are servants by profession who are not so in reality and in heart, but a man's conduct shows what is in his heart. This servant says in his heart, "My Lord delayeth his coming." He does not openly deny that He will come, but he defers the coming and casts off the true servant character, and lords it over God's heritage, as though the day of reckoning would never come. To such a servant the Lord's coming will be sudden, unexpected; He will come as a thief in the night to him, as He will to the world. He is an evil servant (Matthew 24), and shall have his portion with the unbelievers, because he is an unbeliever. The solemn words stand as a warning to each and all, yet how clearly there is foretold in them the unfaithfulness of the professing church; how soon in its history it lost the hope and desire for the Lord's return; and left its first love, and settled down in the world to eat and drink with the drunken, as though it belonged to the world and the night (1 Thessalonians 5:7), and then to lord it over kings and princes, and to persecute the faithful servants of the Lord. It is the spirit of the world in the professing church and must be a grief to the Lord and all who are faithful to Him, and it will meet with His unsparing judgment at His appearing.
The words as to the faithful and wise steward are an encouragement, for they show that until the Lord does come there will be such, who shall care for His interests and feed His household with wisdom and love. He cares for His household, and has provided abundant food for their spiritual health and strength, and this food has been committed to His stewards. There could be no greater sin on the part of any of His servants than the withholding of this food from those who need it, and no greater service to the Lord than the diligent dispensing of it. Blessed are those servants, whom their Lord when He cometh shall find so doing. Awake ye stewards of the Lord; the time is short; the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
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