Throughout the New Testament, the call to “be on the watch” resounds (Matthew 26:41; Mark 13:33, 36-37; Acts 20:31; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 3:2-3; 16:15). The Lord Jesus and all the apostles were equally emphatic in their exhortations to practice watchfulness. But what exactly did they mean when they urged their hearers to be watchful and how does one live on the watch?
What does it mean to be on the watch?
The word itself implies the need to be ‘awake’, ‘alert’, and ‘on guard’. Such a spirit of watchfulness is characterised by two features: ‘perception’ and ‘sensitivity’.
‘Perception’ speaks of the ability to grasp reality and see beneath the surface. It is a matter of exercising discernment in the midst of what we hear and observe around us. It is a scenario where we do not get deceived and sucked into the worldly system but abide by Kingdom standards, operate by Kingdom principles, and proclaim Kingdom values.
‘Sensitivity’ refers to the receptivity one has towards the Spirit of God. It is to live in a manner where we seek to walk in step with Him, careful to neither quench nor grieve Him. It is to lead a lifestyle of purity in heart and fervency in spirit.
How does one live on the watch?
The Scriptures give us various guidelines to enable us to lead watchful lives.
1) Through meditating on the Scriptures (Psalm 119:105; 2 Timothy 3:16-17): The Word of God helps us to know ‘what is right’ (teaches us), ‘what is not right’ (rebukes us), ‘how to get right’ (corrects us), and ‘how to stay right’ (trains us in righteousness). Feeding on the Scriptures and taking it to heart equips us to distinguish between right and wrong, truth and error in everyday life situations.
2) Through being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-18): A Spirit-filled life enables us to live with alertness and exercise discernment. A heart that is soaked in worship and prayer causes us to be strong in our inner man and lead an overcoming life.
3) Through guarding one’s heart (Luke 21:34; 22:45): A heart patient is always careful about his lifestyle as he knows it can affect both the quality and duration of his life. The same truth applies to the believer. Allowing our heart to be filled with elements and matters that can desensitize and defile us is dangerous and destructive. Such issues range from indulgence in wild living or worldly pleasures to being weighed down by the anxieties of life.
4) Through pursuing godly qualities (2 Peter 1:5-8): The apostle Peter offers us a remedy to avoid becoming ineffective and unproductive in our walk with God. In what can be described as his farewell speech, he exhorts us to pursue godly qualities continually (2 Peter 1:5-8, 13-15). By doing so, we can progress in our relationship with God and receive a rich welcome by the Lord on that great Day.
5)Through engaging in fellowship with other believers (Hebrews 3:12-13): In his letter to the Hebrew believers, the author calls upon them to encourage one another daily so they may be protected from developing sinful, unbelieving hearts that turn away from the living God. Belonging to a local church and relating to others in the Body of Christ provides safety and imparts strength.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you!