Don’t Get Lazy
DON’T GET LAZY
If you are new to River City, we are going through the book of Luke verse by verse, chapter by chapter, and we’re about halfway through. Right now, in chapter 12, we are listening in on a lengthy conversation Jesus is having with his disciples, and as the crowds press in to listen in verse 1, Jesus turns to his disciples and says “Be on your guard against hypocrisy. You’ll be tempted to live for the applause of the crowd on one hand, and live in fear of the Pharisees on the other hand, and you’ll be tempted to play-act your faith instead of trusting that God sees you and takes care of you. Then last week, we heard Jesus say in verse 15, “be on your guard against greed or covetousness. Don’t start thinking that all of your possessions or your abilities or the gifts you’ve been given are simply yours to stockpile.” Then he added, “Don’t get worked up about the physical things of life, like food and clothing. God knows you need food to live, and he knows you need to wear clothes, he made you! He takes care of things much less important than you. Worry more about finding the kingdom of heaven, which God is eager for you to find.
Follow Your Heart...
So watch out for hypocrisy; watch out for greed; watch out for worry; and we left off with this last week in verse 34: Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. If you want to know what you treasure, what you love most, just watch your heart for a couple of days. What makes me angry? What am I worried might happen to me, to my family, to my job? What keeps me up at night? What person or group of people am I always nervous to interact with because I really want them to like me? Hypocrisy, worry, greed – they are all heart issues that reveal what we actually treasure. So, the reality is, when someone says “follow your heart,” it will often lead us straight to what we worship, what we treasure.
Jesus continues this conversation in our text today – still talking to his disciples, and he’s going to give us one more way you can examine your heart to see where your treasure is:
We'll Leave the Lights On For You
35 “Be ready for service and have your lamps lit. 36 You are to be like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet so that when he comes and knocks, they can open the door for him at once.
This is simply a picture of a boss who has been invited to an out of town wedding. In those days, weddings weren’t one day events like ours. They could be up to a week long. Plus, you didn’t just drive to the CR airport and you’re in Oklahoma before lunchtime. It was hard to say how long the boss would be gone. Trips back then were a little less predictable. He could be gone 3 days, he could be gone 10, could be more. No one really knows when he will come back.
But the expectation is that the employees will be taking care of the operation while he’s gone, carrying on his plans and wishes for the farm, doing their daily chores, using their abilities and his resources wisely, and keeping one eye on the driveway watching for him to return so they can serve him when he shows up.
At Any Minute Now
For those of you who don’t know, my wife Jodi and I have four children. Our oldest graduated from high school in the spring, and moved to Ohio last month to be part of a 9-month discipleship training and music gap year program.
We haven’t seen him for three weeks, but he told us he was coming home this weekend for various reasons. We knew it could be any moment on Friday morning. So, I was sitting at my desk working, Jodi was cleaning up some things in the house getting ready for him, and we were both just keeping our eyes peeled on that driveway for a little red car to come buzzing in. That’s the kind of expectancy these servants have as they wait for his return.
The whole point is, they are living expectantly. And for the servants who are eagerly watching and waiting when the boss returns, it’s a good deal. 37 Blessed will be those servants the master finds alert when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will get ready, have them recline at the table, then come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the middle of the night, or even near dawn, and finds them alert, blessed are those servants.
Come And Get Me
Then verse 39 Jesus kind of gives an example of what he means, and says if you knew someone was robbing your house at 12:30 tonight, you would do your best impression of Kevin McCallister in the movie Home Alone, and you’ll be ready for them, right? You’d have all the lights on outside and inside the house, you’d call the police and have them in the driveway, you’d be on the porch with the shotgun or whatever.
For that reason, no good thief sets up an appointment with you to rob your house. They come when you least expect it. So you have to be ready at all times.
A good security guard doesn’t fall asleep, especially at that 2am–4am time slot that is so tough to stay awake. Everyone else is going to sleep around him, but he’s drinking coffee, slapping his face, doing jumping jacks… whatever it takes.
In Jesus’ story, the boss returns from a trip and finds his servants ready and waiting, the house lights are on, grass is mowed, floors are clean, bank account is balance, and when he arrives, he is so fired up that these servants were ready for his return, that instead of asking them to serve him breakfast like he normally would, he tells them to sit down and he whips out the skillet to make them food and take care of them. In a move of surprising joy, he serves his own servants!
And finally Jesus gets to the point of this story: 40 You also be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Now you and I have the luxury of knowing what Jesus is referring to. But the disciples are scratching their heads a little bit. What does Jesus mean that he is coming at an hour you don’t expect? He’s sitting right here next to us, telling us a story! I picture John trying to make eye contact with his brother James, maybe a little eye squint like, do you get what he’s saying? James replies with a subtle shrug and eyebrows that say “not a clue.”
Maybe someone finally looked at Peter and whispered, “ask him!! So Peter, the brave one, speaks up… 41 “Lord,” Peter asked, “are you telling this parable to us or to everyone?” I mean, what do you mean, “you’re coming”? Do you mean you're coming to their town when they least expect it, and they should be ready to welcome you???
Who's In Charge?
And like he often does, Jesus answers the question with a story. Jesus begins with a question: 42 The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible manager his master will put in charge of his household servants to give them their allotted food at the proper time?
The focus now moves from the boss and how he will respond when he returns to find things in order, and shifts to the manager he put in charge while he was gone. The manager’s job was to oversee the household servants, making sure that their needs are being met.
43 Blessed is that servant whom the master finds doing his job when he comes. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
Doesn’t say there was anything extravagant or glorious happening. It’s not that he took the farm and tripled its acreage, or invested and doubled the income. The master simply returned and found that manager doing his job, taking care of the other employees. It leads to a reward where he is promoted to the highest job he can have where he receives charge over everything the master has. Think of Joseph in Genesis, where Pharaoh made him second in command. Think of Mordecai from the book of Esther, who was made second in command to Xerxes.
Don't Get Lazy
But There’s a big contrast coming up here, 45 if that servant who started out as faithfully managing and taking care of the other employees and doing his job says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and (instead of feeding them) starts to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 that servant’s master will come on a day he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will and didn’t prepare himself (didn’t get dressed or leave the lights on or stay up to watch) or do it will be severely beaten.
This manager thinks to himself… usually a wedding trip is 10 days at the most. It’s been 14. It’s been 20. Now it's been a month he’s been gone. It’s time for a new sheriff in these parts.
This manager abandoned his post, and instead of doing what he knew was the will of his boss, did whatever he wanted, no longer seeing himself as responsible to his master. He just indulged his own fleshly desires, feeding himself instead of the servants, eating and drinking until he was drunk, meaning he was indulging in the master’s things, in his goods. Not only that, instead of remembering that he too is a servant of the master, he puts himself in the place of his master’s authority and began to beat the other servants.
Ready Or Not
The master is unexpectedly coming home either way. It’s like when you play the game hide-and-seek, that person who is counting finally gets to 50 or whatever, and then what do they say? “Ready or not, here I come.” It’s too late at that point to find a spot if you haven’t already found one. Well, the master, true to his word, did show up when the manager least expected it, and for that manager things did not end well. And for the employees under the care of that manager, who didn’t do what they didn’t know they were supposed to do, they didn’t get off scot free either. 48 says they received a light beating.
So not only did he not do what he knew he should do, other people ended up paying the price for his negligence!
And Jesus summarizes the story with this in 48: From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected.
To answer Peter’s question, are you talking to us as disciples or to everyone, the answer is YES. For those who are entrusted with the responsibility of leadership in the church, AND from those who were given skills and resources and time and so on, an account is required and a lot is expected.
Much is Required
Jesus was telling this to his disciples who would be responsible for leading the church. They are the foundation for what will become the global church by teaching others the truths they have seen and heard from Jesus. They are the ones who walked with Jesus. They are the ones who saw the kingdom of heaven up close in his healings, his delivering people from demons, his miracles; they are the ones who sat with him and walked with him and heard him teach them the truths of the kingdom; they are the ones who will be filled with the Holy Spirit who will remind them of all the things Jesus taught them about how the scriptures all point to him. They are the ones who, more than anyone, know the will of the Father because Jesus personally taught it to them!
And I would say Jesus is warning them against laziness. Warning them against apathy. Warning them against forgetting that they are servants of the master. Warning them against treasuring the master’s things more than they treasure him.
This text is a warning to pastors and church leaders too. God’s judgment will be more severe on church leaders than anyone else, because of what they’ve been entrusted with. James 3:1 says “not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we who teach will receive a stricter judgment.” That’s why Paul says don’t rush to make someone a leader, and it’s why I hope you pray for your leaders often.
But it’s not just the leaders who are accountable – even the person who didn’t know what the master’s will was (look at verse 48) was still held accountable. There is no such excuse as “well I didn’t know!” That servant wasn’t judged as severely, but he still got a beating.
Not everyone is asked to be a leader. Not everyone is given the same amount of responsibility or gifts or time. The point is, you will be accountable for whatever you were given, whatever you were entrusted with.
Where Your Treasure Is...
And Remember this whole conversation is centered around where your treasure is.
- If you treasure what others think of you, you’ll either get angry or defensive or self-protect when people accuse you of something; or like a chameleon, you’ll change your colors to fit the crowd you’re currently in, even though God promises to take care of you! We’re free to be honest!
- If you treasure comfort and control and security, you’ll be fearful or worried about things like clothes and food. Your heart will be anxious if you don’t have two or three times what you need, “just in case,” even though God knows exactly what you need now and what you’ll need tomorrow, and promises to meet your needs. We’re free to live generously, fearlessly, we’re free to take risks for the kingdom of God.
- If you treasure recognition, advancement, or authority, you are storing up savings in the wrong bank account, living as if the true master is never coming back from the wedding, even though God promises that if you endure to the end, faithfully doing your job, he himself will slide you up to the table and personally serve you the best banquet you can imagine AND promote you! We’re free to be content with serving in the shadows.
- If you, like the lazy manager, treasure the master’s things (his food, his drink, his power) more than you treasure him, you are storing up treasure in the wrong bank, because verse 32 here in Luke 12 says that God eagerly desires to give you the kingdom!!! He wants to find us faithful when he returns, because it means we finally get to receive all that he has for us – which is himself AND his good gifts!!!
Because one day, he’ll pull in the driveway and it’ll be too late to treasure Christ then. It’ll be too late to seek the kingdom when it’s already here. He’s already told us he’s on the way. Before breakfast tomorrow morning, you could be standing in front of his throne giving an account of what you did with the time, resources, possessions, finances, relationships, skills, abilities, leadership opportunities, etc you were given.
Are You Dressed Appropriately?
So the question everyone in this room and those watching online have to answer is, : Are you dressed, doing your job, lights on in the house, and ready for that to happen?
Maybe someone is asking, “what does that even look like to be dressed with the lights on”?
Isaiah 64 says that our self-righteousness, all of our attempts to get God’s attention or trying to earn our own salvation are like wearing clothes soaked and stained in our own you know what, our own filth, in God’s eyes. It’s actually quite disgusting. But Isaiah 61:10 says “I rejoice greatly in the LORD, I exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness…”
The apostle Paul would write in Romans 3 that this robe of righteousness is given to us when we have the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus applied to us by faith.
The reason we talk about being ambassadors for the glory of God here at River City comes from 2 Corinthians 5:20. The very next verse says, He (God) made the person who never sinned (Jesus) to become sin for us so that we would become the righteousness of God. In other words, God’s plan for our salvation and the redemption of the human race was that Jesus would put on our filth soaked clothes and take the beating that we should have received at the cross.
He was whipped and beaten until he was unrecognizable, then nailed to a Roman cross and executed like a criminal even though he had never committed a single crime against people or against God. The most faithful servant to ever walk the earth was treated like the least faithful servant. And in exchange for taking the beating we deserved, he would hand us HIS robe of righteousness so that when he returns, he finds us dressed appropriately to receive the kingdom in full! God raised him from the dead to seal that deal, to show us the cross worked!
This part isn’t about work we do. It’s about what we’ve received from Jesus. He has clothed us in his righteousness – the very thing that makes our work acceptable to God.
One of the ways we remember and rejoice in this truth is through Communion. So before I go any further in the sermon, we’re going to participate in the Lord’s Supper together and once again receive the grace of God.
The Lord’s Supper isn’t about us making some commitment that I’ll do better this week. It’s not, Lord I’ll try harder to be good and ready for your return… This bread and cup that we participate in this morning is God’s commitment to us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; that God has moved toward us in grace before we ever gave him a thought.
This isn’t about remembering an event, where a sinless man died at the hands of religious people. This is about a living person who is right now praying for you, interceding for you, loving you, calling you, has forgiven you, and is one day returning for you..... That’s what it means to be dressed appropriately. Now, having our lamps lit.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:16 that we should “let our lights shine before others so that they would see our good deeds and glorify our Father who is in heaven.” Having our lamps lit means we are busy about the calling God has placed on our lives. We are not sleeping on the job. As Nate said last week, the body needs you to be using your gifts, because the gifts are meant to impact and affect others. Any calling you have, any resources you’ve been given, look at verse 42, is not primarily for yourself – it’s for others.
The judgment on the manager in verse 45, and the judgment on the rich man back in 19, is that though they had the ability to equip and care for others, they didn’t do it.
This part is about what we do. There’s a reason the Lord’s Supper was first. We’ve been saved, Ephesians 2 says, by grace through faith. It’s definitely not our good works that saved us, but we have been saved FOR good works which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
There are good works God has called you to do right now that will impact his eternal kingdom. Do you know what they are? You can’t be busy about them unless you know what they are, right? So how do you know what he’s called you to do?
What Good Works?
It’s actually not all that complicated or mysterious. Start by looking at what he’s already given you, what he’s already entrusted to you, what his Word already instructs you to do, and be faithful with that, knowing that Jesus could return at any second.
You don’t have to worry that you might not have enough or that if you give too much God won’t come through; you don’t have to stockpile your resources; you don’t have to worry about always being the servant and never the boss – Trust God that if you’re faithful with what he’s given, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, 1 Peter 5 says, and in the proper time Jesus himself will slide out a chair, invite you to sit down and rest from your work, and he will serve you, promote you, and praise you for not giving up.