Watch and Work.

Matthew 25:1-30.

W. G. B.

Christian Friend vol. 19, 1892, p. 17.

There is a principle in each of these parables of the kingdom of heaven which it is most important that we should hold together in our souls. They are watchfulness and workfulness, if it may be permitted to coin a word to express faithful diligence.

From each of these parables it is evident that all is not right in the kingdom of heaven during the Lord's absence. There are five unwise virgins as well as five wise ones. There is a wicked and slothful servant as well as good and faithful ones. And this fact serves to show us the character of the kingdom of heaven. That it is the sphere of profession, and not simply of true and loyal subjects and servants. True as it is that "the householder sowed good seed in his field," "his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat." (Matthew 13:24-25.) This brings before us the present mixed condition of the kingdom, and how it came about. (See also vv. 36-43.)

Now the moral of the first parable of Matthew 25 is contained in verse 13, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." In both parables the Lord is absent. In the first the possibility of His return at any moment is contemplated. In the second His protracted absence is regarded as possible. "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country." (v. 14.) "After a long time the lord of those servants cometh." (v. 19.)

In the first it does not say "ye know neither the year nor the month," nor even "ye know not the week"; but "ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." His return may be at any moment; and so the importance of the injunction, "Watch therefore!" How blessed the promise to the watchers in Luke 12. "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 to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." This is one of the most precious promises in Scripture. Let us see to it that we do not miss obtaining the immense privilege and honour. It will be a great thing to serve Him in the coming glory of the kingdom. "His servants shall serve Him." (Rev. 22:3.) But what will it be for Him to gird Himself, make us sit down to meat, and for Him to come forth and serve us? Blessed Master, never weary of serving us!

We have been permitted to begin another year; but long before its end the night of watching may be over, and He whom we look for have come. Let us then be on the watch. As a Christian coastguard said, "I often, when on my beat at night, watch for the morning star, while all the world is asleep."

On the other hand there may still be a little space left for serving our absent Lord. "Let us the precious hours redeem." And this is where the second parable of Matthew 25 is so useful as a stimulus to our laggard hearts. What is looked for is not the restless activity of the flesh, - there never was such a day for that as the present, - but diligent fidelity in what has been committed to our charge to use for our Lord.

In another gospel we read, "For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work." (Mark 13:34.) Every man has had his work apportioned. Do we each know what our work is? and are we doing it faithfully? I believe numbers of God's children have never been exercised as to what their own individual work really is. The Master never contemplated idlers. "Slothful servant" (Matt. 25:26) is the condemnation of the wicked servant. The mere professed servant, who was all the time doing nothing with his master's goods. There is none to whom the Master has not given something to do for Him. "To every man his work." This is not necessarily preaching or any great public form of service. It is equally the quiet unseen service in the house, training children, visiting the sick, ministering to the needy - the thousand forms of serving the Lord.

And here in our parable there are talents committed to each. Not merely the gift of an evangelist, pastor, or teacher; but anything, I take it, which we might employ for Christ. Abilities, time, money, etc. And, as has often been noticed, the praise is not "good and successful," but "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Oh to be using what He has committed to our charge with faithful diligence! What a stimulus it should be to us (though not the object of our service; He Himself is that) the thought of hearing His well done, and entering into the joy of our Lord. Then will be the day to reckon up results, and to rejoice, not with trembling, as now, but to share our Lord's joy in the result of faithful service.

"Be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

The Lord give us to hold these two together, to watch and work till He come. W. G. B.