If this were a sermon, I would title it “Vigilance.” More than any other time, more than any other day I have ever lived through, “vigilance” is the order of the day. The Sunday before writing this, a church in Jacksonville was threatened by a man on the property with a shotgun. Had the church not been vigilant, that could have had a very bad ending.
We live in a day where our threats are real. Our staff recently had a discussion about safety in the church. It involved more than simply saying, “well just trust the Lord and it will be alright.” Jesus said in one verse “put your sword away” and then in another, “sell what you have and buy a sword.” So we live between a place where we trust in God and remember that “the wrath of man does not accomplish the will of God” and the need to “keep watch and be vigilant, for your adversary like a roaring lion is on the prowl.” God wants us to trust Him for protection but not to the exclusion of our being careful and vigilant. We are to watch and pray. One old preacher I heard translated it this way: “Pray with one eye open.”
Nehemiah 4 is an excellent example of godly vigilance. Nehemiah knew there were enemies around. He had met them. They had threatened him and so he posted guards as they continued building the wall. In fact their vigilance was such that “half the workers built and half stood guard with swords and shields and bows and armor.” (4:16) They trusted God (4:14) but they kept their swords sharpened!
We are also to “keep our sword and shield and armor” at hand. This is called “the Christian’s armor” and I do not believe this is just a metaphor or symbolic armament. We are literally, I believe, to pray through this armor as we confront the reality of the spiritual warfare around us. To move out without our armor is like running onto the field in a college football game without your helmet and pads! You will be destroyed by the first play! And so it has happened to many Christians.
Paul ends his challenge to believers in Ephesians 6 with this thought: “Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age….” (Ephesians 6:10-12)
Be vigilant. Don’t sleep while on watch. Prompt each other to stay on the alert. And together, we will overcome!
FOR MEDITATION: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7
FOR REFLECTION: Check yourself. Are you ready for battle? Do you know the enemy is on the prowl and never takes time off? We need to be ever watching. And always prepared for war.