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Be Vigilant!
Boldness, by our nature's own imbalance, can so easily become presumption!
 
Therefore it is essential that our boldness be balanced with a watchfulness, an alertness;
yes, even within the fellowship and work of the Christian church.
 
Listen to
God's own word to us –
 
Toward Others:  
• 
"Watch out that no one deceives you"
Matthew 24:4. 
• 
"Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod."
Mark 8:15.
• 
"Watch out for the teachers of the Law [the Bible]. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces"
Mark 12:38.
• 
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."
Matthew 7:15.
• 
"...watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them"
Romans 16:17.
Toward Ourselves:  
• 
"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Luke 12:15.
• 
"Watch your life and doctrine closely! Persevere in them, because if you do you will save both yourself and your hearers."
1 Timothy 4:16.
• 
"So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him"
Luke 17:3.
• 
"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."
Galatians 6:1.
• 
"Be on guard for yourselves and all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers"
Acts 20:28.
• 
"Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of man"
Luke 21:36.
• 
"Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully."
2 John 1:8.
 
 
Take Paul's
example.
His bold confidence in the Christians of Achaia was beautiful. But it was carefully not presumptuous. He balanced his confidence with alertness, an on-guard attitude that was prepared against the dangers of human nature (2 Cor.9:1-6).

He wrote:
 
 
"For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we; not to say anything about you; would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised."
2 Corinthians 9:4-5
Especially outside the fellowship of the church – let's be on our guard!  
 
Living in 'Christendom' has sometimes blunted our senses in this regard. Our world is not made up of friends we do not know! This does not mean that we should withdraw into a ghetto-mentality of 'us-and-them'. It does mean however, that while sharing in our Lord's love toward this lost world we must stay alert to the intrinsic hostility of its nature. Christ's arrest highlights this, and He tried to awaken His disciples to this responsibility as they walked together toward Gethsemane.
 
 
En route Jesus warns His disciples that He will be treated as a criminal ('transgressor' Luke 22:35-38). This would put them at risk as His accomplices. He therefore reminds them of how previously all their personal needs had been supplied by those who had benefited from their ministry when He had sent them out preaching (as reported Mat.10:9-10). But now, in contrast, they must provide for their own personal needs, to the extent of even arming themselves against mob violence. (Read the reference).
 
 
To us this simply means that we are ourselves directly responsible for being prepared against the dangers and difficulties of our life circumstances. We are therefore not to allow ourselves to become victims of lawlessness. If it is for our faith in Christ that we suffer - then that is our glory, for which honour we praise God! But, we are never to accept being victims of circumstance. Remember: Jesus warned that all will die as victims of circumstance unless there is repentance; an ongoing turning-away from our own ways (Lk.13:1-5).
 
 
Remember that 'shrewd manager' in Jesus' parable? He had learned to be a 'serpent' by the pressure of his problem – his impending unemployment. Likewise, the apostles also, because of the impending night arrest of Christ were to be ready to protect themselves from the possible excess of violence during the arrest, and their personal needs while in hiding. Although Christ's instruction left them little time, the apostles did have two swords among them. Jesus responded that this was sufficient. He knew what they had had with them at the Last Supper, but, as He often did, Jesus used the challenge of the imminent circumstance of His arrest to drive this lesson home, for them and for us.
 
As part
of His lesson on being prepared, Jesus instructed His disciples to prioritise their options. He commanded –
"if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one"
Luke 22:36.
 
The relative priority of a sword over a cloak in the disciple's situation at that time simply meant that their physical survival was more important than their comfort during the Spring night. This significance of Christ's teaching should have obvious to the disciples, but when boldness is presumptuous (as Peter's boldness tended to be) vigilance or watchfulness is not always awake.
 
 
Today, some complain that the disciples must have misunderstood Jesus, for He would never have condoned the violence, even defensive violence, that would be associated with owning a sword. In other words, Peter's violence toward Malchus in Gethsemane and Christ's intervention and rebuke are evidence of the wrongness in general of a Christian using a weapon. This view errs by ignoring both the literary and historical context.
 
 
The context of Christ's words about buying a sword relate to His previous instructions, literal instructions, about money on their preaching mission (a public support which they could now not rely on). There is no way that these words can be made allegorical or symbolic without doing violence to the literary context of holy Scripture. In addition, the historical context of the event shows a sleep-befuddled Peter presumptuously acting without authority; trying to rescue Jesus rather than obey Him. This does warn us against vigilante actions, but Christ was no pacifist. He bracket His public ministry between two violent clearings of the Temple courts of money changers and animal sellers, in which He specially made a whip to cause pain for the enforcement of His instructions.
 
Some
very sincere believers have felt that it would be better, after all, to simply trust the Lord for one's survival in this world. True! There is absolutely no hope without trust in God's protection. But trust is not a substitute for obedience.
 
To not
Obedience is the outward evidence of genuine trust. For instance, Jesus commanded his disciples –
"if they persecute you in one city flee to the next"
flee when the option is available, is not faith or confidence in God, it is disobedience to the Lord.
Matthew 10:23.
 
No one was more entitled to God's protection than Jesus, yet He took the trouble to hide Himself from His enemies when it was not God's time for Him to die (Jn.8:59). Faith is therefore not passivity that resigns to circumstance in the expectation of being rescued by God. Nor is it bravado that takes authority into its own hands, as Peter well-meaningly did. Both are sins of presumption.
 
Being vigilant then means being prepared, alert, watchful –
•  in our relationship to God
•  in our personal industriousness
•  in our personal life-style and
•  in our financial management
for God really has provided far more than we appreciate!
 
 
Alert living is the single-minded-living that Jesus said would be 'light' for walking
"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light..."
Matthew 6:19-34

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