“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
Have you noticed how God often uses a few words to explain a big thing? Scientists, philosophers and theologians like to use many words to appear intelligent, yet there are not many long speeches made in the Bible. Short, precise, but meaningful statements are used to express eternal truths. Even the Bible itself is a relatively short book compared with others; it only takes approximately 70 hours to read it through. God does not pad out what He has to say with surplus words.
A few examples
Think of Creation; in the first chapter of Genesis we have the record of how everything came into existence, whereas unending volumes have failed to explain the working of mythological notions evolution; how nothing produced something, that turned into everything. God spoke and it was done. Just a few words and it was finished. Instead of a great description of His accomplishment, God says, “It was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
Then there are the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20. Just a few words yet upon them are built the whole of the will of God for man’s behaviour and the very foundation of godly morality. If we wanted these words shortened without losing any of their intent, we have them encapsulated in the two commandments given by Jesus. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). In a few words the message of both Testaments is clearly stated.
Let us not forget those few words that sealed our salvation. “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Everything that is written about His advent, His life, His mission, are contained in three words. A few words, but the effects are eternal!
A few words
If we go back to our opening text we find two words that speak of a weighty subject in the Christian life. “Watch Ye”. Immediately we understand that there is something vitally important that we must do if we are to remain faithful to the Lord in this world. The word “watch” means ‘to stay alert, to diligently stay awake and give full attention to’. It is this precise command that Jesus gave His disciples before He departed. He promised to return to establish His Kingdom on earth and to judge His servants. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:27-28) … “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:42-44).
The Scriptures tell us other things about which we must be watchful. As we look at these maybe we will see that we have not been as watchful as we ought.
1. “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (Revelation 3:2-3). How easy it is to let the wonderful truths of the Bible to slip away from us! How often have we been guilty of not honouring our relationship with Christ. Not being watchful brings in error and death, confusion and condemnation.
2. “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7). Even when the signs prophesied in Scripture are all around us, we become lazy and allow compromise to settle in our hearts. The age we live in demands that Christians be prayerful. Without this we soon loose sight of the presence of God. Jesus encouraged His disciples to “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
3. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4:2-5). So many Christians are giving up hope, some even turning to paganism and evolution rather than faithfully obeying the word of God. Others are taking what they think is the easy route to Heaven. The are a few who keep on doing what the Lord has called them to do. They must continue to watch and not permit anything into their lives that might distract them from serving God.
4. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9). In Hebrew the word “vigilant” comes from the same word as ‘watch’. We can readily see that not being watchful makes us easy prey for Satan. We have to be constantly on guard when it comes to our souls because the flesh is so eager to find ways to not live for the Lord. In the natural a lion will usually attack the weakest animal of the pack, and illustrates what happens in the spiritual. We will never be weak or become prey for the devil if we watch and pray.
There are several other passages that speak of watchfulness, but the few highlighted here express the need to stay alert in every area of our Christian lives. “Watch Ye” are only two words but they are very important for each believer. A few words that contain eternal truths which set and keep us free. A few words well spoken that we must not fail to understand.