THE WATCHING SERVANT
Luke 12:35 48
Dr. D. L. Lowrie
It is hard to stay ready in the midst of uncertainty. This is a problem that our military leaders struggle with all of
the time. Those responsible for our national defense have to assume that one of the enemies of our country will
attack us some¬day. They do not know which day it might be. Those who man the radar screens must sit at their
desk like this could be the day. Those who man the missiles must be prepared to respond to a command from the
President of the United States in a moment. Those who serve in the Strategic Air Command must be ready to fly
to their pre¬determined destination immediately. Readiness is the word. They must be watchful servants of the
United States of America. Our security as a nation depends upon their watchfulness and faithfulness.
This type of mindset is to be the attitude of the Christian for all of His life. Jesus our Lord has given us an
assignment in life. He Himself has gone away to heaven to wait for the divinely chosen moment for the
manifestation of the kingdom of God in all of its glory. We do not know when He will return even though we are
confident that He will return. His word is at stake. He will come again. It is imperative that when He comes we be
found watching in a state of readiness. We must be watching servants! Jesus said, "Let your loins be girded
about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord." The long flowing
garments worn by the people made it necessary to gather them up with a belt if you were going to move quickly.
The girded loins were a sign of readiness. The burning lamp was an essential if you were going to move quickly
in the night. No matter how hard it is to maintain such a lifestyle, this is what Jesus calls for. Let us look at these
brief parables to see what we can learn about the watching servant.
I. THE WATCHING SERVANT IS MOTIVATED BY ANTICIPATION
Listen again to the word of our Lord. "And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return
from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those
servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching.''
A. The anticipation grows out of the relationship. The language of the two para¬bles remind us of a very
basic thing about our relationship to Jesus Christ. He is the Lord and we are the slave. The slave is one who
belongs to the lord. For what¬ ever reason he has come to be the property of this lord. In the political realities of
that day a man could become the slave of another because his country lost a war, or because of debts he could
not pay, or because he was born to slave parents. This relationship would be the dominate thing in his life. Being
a slave effected every thing about him. it effected where he lived, the work he did, the food he ate, the friends he
made everything. He was a slave who lived for the pleasure of his lord.
There is no mystery about how we came to be the slaves of Jesus Christ. Our slavery and His mastery over our
lives is voluntary. We chose to be his servants. When we learned through the Gospel of Jesus Christ who He is
and what He did for us on the cross, the only proper response seemed to be to make ourselves His slaves. His
love for us made us His willing servants.
This relationship creates anticipation. When He comes, it will involve a meeting of the Lord and His slaves. Should
not the slave look forward with fearful anticipation to such an event?
B. The anticipation also grows out of a sense of responsibility and accountability.
This is a part of the lot of a slave. He is responsible and accountable to someone
else. Jesus emphasizes this in both sections of the parable. The coming of the Lord will involve each slave being
called upon to report on his activities while the Lord has been away. This motivates the servant to look
forward to the coming of the Lord. It motivates him to maintain a high level of readiness.
II. THE WATCHING SERVANT IS MARKED BY PREPARATION
Whatis the preparation our Lord will be looking for when He comes? There seems to be two things suggested by
the parables. He will be looking for our lives to be totally available to Him. He will expect us to be unentangled.
That is really what He says in the admonition. "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning.'' The best
preparation we can make for His return is that of keeping our lives in a position of availability to the Lord. If you
are not available to Him this very moment, if you are not listening for His command and ready to move in
obedience, then you are not prepared for His return. A watching servant is one who is prepare to do whatever He
might bid them do.
The second quality in that preparation is faithful discharge of your present assignment. This is the issue that
Jesus addresses in the second parable. In re¬sponse to the question raised by Peter, Jesus indicates that we are
more than just slaves. We are slaves to whom the Lord has entrusted some responsibilities. A watching servant is
one who faithfully and wisely fulfills this stewardship.
This raises a question? Do you know what your assignment is from the Lord? What has he entrusted into your
care? I fear that some of us will be unprepared because we have never really understood the will of the Lord for
our lives. However this parable reminds us that we are also responsible to find out what our Lord wants from us
and do it. Ignorance of his will will not excuse us from punishment when he comes. I am fortunate at this point.
God has blessed me with a pretty clear picture of my stewardship. The question is would I be ready today to give
an account¬ing of my stewardship. I must take care of my responsibilities to the Lord like this might be the last
Many of us may be like the Mission hospital I read about. Dr. Paul White was the medical director of this small
hospital in the African interior. One morning a messenger ran into the house to announce that a car was
approaching with a flag on it. The director knew at once that this meant that the government official had come for
an inspection of the hospital compact. The messenger was dispatched to the hospital with a message to prepare
for inspection at once. Ten minutes later the inspector was walking through the halls and rooms of the hospital.
He found every¬thing neat and spotless. After commending the medical missionary, he left.
Soon after the tour of inspection Dr. White opened a door into a dressing room, only to find everything unkempt
and in confusion. To prevent the inspector from seeing three beds and two patients, all untidy, with soiled linens,
unsightly mats, and unwashed dishes, a faithful African helper had stood guard at the door to see that no one
entered the unkempt room. You can imagine the suspense and anxiety of the hospital crew as the inspector went
through the rooms. Would he discover their one spot of unpreparedness? Later the helper said to Dr. White, "We
were not fully prepared for the visit of the Governor. This experience has taught me always to be ready for the
coming of my Lord. Then I'll not have to bundle away a lot of things that I am ashamed for him to see.''
This is the way it is with the watching servant. He has His work in such a state that He is ready for the Lord to
come and inspect it. What if today was that in¬spection day? Are you ready?
III. THE WATCHING SERVANT IS REWARDED BY EXALTATION
Our Lord provides some strong motivation for being a watchful servant. In both parables He indicates rewards
that will be forthcoming to the watchful servant.
A. He will have the privilege of being served by Christ Himself. "Blessed are
those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching; verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself,
and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them". This is a surprise. This just never
happened in the natural realm.
No master ever rewarded a watchful and faithful servant by serving him. The servant was never allowed to forget
that he was a servant. Nor is it the kind of thing we might expect. Most of us would feel like Queen Victoria who is
reported to have said, "I hope I can be alive when Jesus comes so I can take my crown and lay it at his feet."
Would it not be a privilege to be able to personally serve at the exalted throne of our Lord! But He promises that
he will leave his throne, gird himself like a servant, and will serve those who are watching for His return.
Whatever this may mean, I would surely like to be a part of it. Oh, the joy of being in such a relationship with Him.
B. There will also be a promotion in our place of servant. "Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh
shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath." We must not
misunderstand this. This is not a promise that we will become a despot in some part of the kingdom of the Lord. It
rather means that we will have an opportunity to be the kind of servant ruler which He is. There will be some place
where we can rule by serving. The key is how faithful we are over that which the Lord has given to us now.
Our lord includes a very solemn warning about the servant who is not watching, the servant who uses the delay
of the Lord's coming as an excuse to misuse his steward¬ship and to abuse those over whom he is responsible.
The Lord will deal with that servant severely. Oh, may God help us to be watching so that we may enjoy the
exalta¬tion that comes from him. May we prove ourselves to be as trustworthy as He is!
If you are a Christian, you are a servant. This is the relationship that you freely
chose in response to His love. Your Lord is coming again. We do not know when. It could be this very day. It is
our responsibility to be watching for His coming. What if it were today, are you ready? Are you anticipating His
coming? Are you living in preparedness? Will His coming lead to your exaltation? It can if you will be the