Luke 12: “Be ready for service and have your lamps lit.
Over the last 15 years I’ve worked in the mission along side thousands of people. During that time, I’ve watched a lot of them come and go. The ones that aren’t prepared for the “service” Jesus talks of in v.35 go pretty quickly. But the ones who are “ready” have fruitful seasons of ministry. Some of that difference has to do with how a person views his service.
Are you a volunteer or a steward?
A volunteer serves someone else’s purpose. A steward serves out of a God-directed purpose.
A volunteer serves out of external, lawful pressure. A steward serves from an inward passionate compelling.
A volunteer serves with expectations of “clean, tidy and safe.” A steward serves understanding he’s a soldier in a battle on the front lines.
There really is no difference between the good steward that Jesus teaches here in Luke 12 and when Paul instructs Timothy to share in suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Suffering? Soldier? I just wanted to volunteer!
He’s not calling us to volunteerism. He’s calling us to be, at once, both stewards and soldiers and to know there is no difference between the work and the fight.
Just consider that every person you want to help through volunteerism is someone the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy. It’s a real battle. If that’s true, then what you and I do to advance His Kingdom through showing and sharing the gospel to men, women and children is dangerous.
And here, Jesus says, “Be ready.”
One of my patients had quite the deformity. He was missing his arm at the elbow. During my assessment, he admitted that a piece of his shirt or the end of his glove had gotten caught in a piece of machinery at work and before he could get free, it grabbed his finger, his hand and then his arm.
Loose ends are dangerous.
In this passage, Jesus says, “Be ready for service.” More literally, the King James text reads, “Let your loins be girded about.” This practice of girding was to tuck the loose ends of a robe into one’s belt in preparation to do one of two things: work or fight.
Whether you see it as working or fighting, loose ends are a real risk. Here, Jesus warns us. Tie them up. It’s the first step of preparing for service, of being a good steward.
There was once when my life was full of dishonesty, unhealthy relationships and criminal activity. That lifestyle made for a lot of loose ends and, as you might guess, my attention and focus was on each one of them. The risk of getting caught, injured or even worse was too great for me to focus on anything else!
How many loose ends do you have? Where is your focus?
Resentment Guilt Fear Selfishness
These four are very common loose ends, dangerous in that they represent what at first might only be a mere finger-hold by the devil, but a finger-hold that will surely lead to a strong-hold and eventually loss of limb or life.
Gird yourself with a belt of truth and tie these loose ends up.
Resentment? Cry out to God for grace to really forgive.
Guilt? Hit your knees and ask Him to forgive you, then pick up the phone and make that call to the one you’ve hurt.
Fear? Get lost in the perfect love of God.
Selfishness? Go ahead and get sick of yourself. Climb up on the cross with Jesus and then bury yourself in the tomb with Him. You know what comes next.
These loose ends must be dealt with for proper attention to be on the work at hand and right focus for the fight at hand. It’s my experience that no one lasts on the battlefield for long with loose ends. Do what He instructs here. Tie them up.