As 2017 opened its hours to welcome me aboard it also challenged me to have a motto. As I was reading the letter to the Corinthians the following verses impressed itself upon me. ‘Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love’ (1 Corinthians 16:13-14). There are 5 imperatives mentioned. Over the next five weeks I’d like to share some insights to each of these.
As this year unfolds Scripture urges us to keep an active lookout for our Christian life and witness. ‘Keep alert’ has both a negative and a positive aspect to it. We are warned to be on guard against the prowling, roaring and devouring intent of the Devil (1 Peter 5:8). To be honest, the ‘lion’ aspect doesn’t worry me so much. I can discern him. I can hear him. I can, by the grace of God and His word, run and hide. Where is my hiding place? In the company of the Lord Jesus and His word.
The danger which engulfs me is the enemy within. It is called the carnal or flesh nature. It is so cunning. It is so insidious. It is so hard to discern and resist. James 1:14 describes it as ‘one’s own desire.’ The KJV calls it ‘lust.’ Scripture goes into a lot of detail to spell out and warn us of this inner power. Check 1 John 2:16. Galatians 5:16-21.
As I live in a society addicted to ‘Lust’ it is so easy to be seduced. Standing within the shadows is the Devil casting a hypnotic power to hide the devastating and degrading consequences. How can I resist, especially when I don’t want too? By keeping alert and knowing the end of ‘Lust’ is moral, spiritual, relational death (romans 8:6).
The motivational aspect of ‘keep alert’ is to seize opportunities to honour the Lord and bless His people. So much of the New Testament is occupied with challenging us to be men and women with vision, vitality and virtuous. To do this requires an ever conscious commitment to our calling to walk worthy and to the fellowship of Communion. Sounds easy! Sounds noble! Trouble is the World, the Flesh and the Devil want to drown out that sound. Therefore ‘keep alert!’
In Revelation 31-6 is the story of the church in Sardis. It had a name for being alive – Jesus saw it as dead. He called upon it to ‘wake up and strengthen’ what was left but fading. Failure to respond would result in discipline which could build up to being severe. The Lord called upon the church to be a conqueror not conquered. One of the ways out of the mess of self-deception and the lethargy caused by self-confidence was to ‘remember!’ Remember what? Remember the things received, heard and obeyed at the beginning of their new life in Christ. When the Church did that the next word was ‘repent!’ That was the steps to becoming awake and back into a meaningful relationship with the Lord Jesus.
Sardis is an apt metaphor for many Christians. It has applied to me at times in my Christian life. I’m so glad the Lord didn’t leave me in that spiritually comatose state. He stepped in through various means to wake me up, some not too gentle either. Should He do it to you be thankful. The alternative is miserable.
So, as 2017 begins I want to take the words ‘Keep alert’ to heart. How about you?