“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted” (Acts 20:7-12).
Here is that little story of a young man who sat on the windowsill while he was listening to the apostle Paul preaching. Like many churchgoers, he became a little sleepy, his eyes rolled, and he drifted off. His dreams came down to earth with a bump.
Eutychus chose to sit in a dangerous place that night and it cost him his life. Sitting in dangerous place have a habit of turning out for the worse, therefore we should avoid doing so. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1). The way we choose to walk, where we choose to stand and whom we sit with will have an effect on our lives. We wonder if anyone bothered to warn Eutychus about the dangers of sitting on a windowsill! If they did, it looks like he thought he was alert enough to avoid disaster. Common sense should have taught him that it was too risky to sit so high up on a ledge.
Some Christians toy with sin, but in reality they are tempting the Lord as well as risking their souls. The closer we get to sin, the higher is the chance that we will completely fall away from the Lord. How many believers do we know whose goal in life, or so it appears, is to see how far they can go before they lose any sense of God’s presence in their lives? They are like Eutychus, who while listening to wonderful preaching was allowing his mind to wander off. One moment he was sitting comfortably with other believers, but the next he was dead.
Whatever the reason for Eutychus’ drowsiness, it is certain that he was not concentrating on the preaching of God’s word. Every preacher has seen members of his congregation sail away to ‘the land of Nod’. Many though may not literally fall asleep, but worse, they can be spiritually asleep. They better wake up before they perish! “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Ephesians 5:14) … “Awake to righteousness, and sin not” (1 Corinthians 15:34).
Sometimes even the preacher can be asleep! “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant” (Isaiah 56:10-12). So much of God’s blessing can be lost due to half-heartedness and shallow faith. “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mark 13:35-37).
Why did Eutychus fall out of the window rather than into the room? He fell out because he was leaning the wrong way. Those who “lean to” their “own understanding” are usually refuse to “trust in the LORD with all” their “heart” or willing to “acknowledge him in all” their “ways” (Proverbs 3:5).
We might also ask what Eutychus was looking at while sitting on the windowsill. Was he looking at the stars or people milling around in the street below? Was his mind wandering with thoughts of being somewhere else than in this upper room? There are those believers who perch themselves on the dangerous ledge called ‘neglect of church attendance’. They think they have an elevated view of everything, but they will soon fall. Those who refuse to fellowship with other Christians endanger their own souls. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). They see those who speak of the need of fellowship as being negative, but if we love them, we cannot ignore the precarious and perilous situation they have placed themselves in. We have to caution those who are leaning in any other direction than on the “everlasting arms” of Christ (Deuteronomy 33:27).
This is where Eutychus’ choice of seat finally landed him. But for the grace and mercy of God that would be the end of the story. Paul embraced the fallen youth and the Lord restored His life. While we ought to reach out to those who slumber and sleep as they distance themselves from God, we must be ready to help them even when they completely fall away. “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). Jude describes our responsibility in a very graphic way, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever” (Jude :21-25).
If we notice that someone is sitting in a dangerous place, leaning in the wrong direction, or sleeping, let us go and reveal his or her predicament. We cannot just ignore the problem, for we might turn around and find that they have gone forever! Though Eutychus was revived, others might not be. Where people sit, especially if they are sitting on the fence, is a life and death situation.