February 22 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 12)

Submitted by Lillian K. from Gracepoint Austin Church

In verses 35-40, Jesus likens the coming of Christ to a master returning from a wedding banquet, that can usually last for several days back in those times, and our roles as his disciples to be like servants eagerly waiting for the master’s return. Why would Jesus use this particular imagery, what is he trying to teach me through this illustration?

I was thinking about what it would take for a servant to be watchful throughout the night, even when it’s the dead of night (second, third watch) when everyone else is snuggled up in bed. It’s a wonderful picture of devotion and even love for his master that keeps him watchful and eagerly awaiting his arrival, to be “ready for service” as soon as he arrives, to get up quickly as soon as he hears the knock, anticipating his master. It is clear for this servant that when the master is gone, it’s not a time to relax and do whatever he wants, but it is a time to make himself ready for his return. His purpose is obvious: his life is solely in service for his master. He finds no other use for his time other than to know how to serve his master, taking on the master’s concerns, his affairs, his household as his own. He simply wants to ready himself for service to His master. He’s not distracted by anything else that he could be doing with his time, he’s dressing himself, readying the house, readying his own alertness to await the master’s arrival.

Likewise, Jesus wants me as his disciple of Christ to be like this servant, readying myself for his arrival, and that be the reigning focus for my life, so that I can be prepared for service for Him. It means that this ministry, the people of God’s household (the church), the good work of salvation that He has entrusted to me until His return are to be my own concerns as well. It means that there is no other activity, no other duty in life that is worth attending to compared to readying myself for Christ’s return. And knowing the “needs” of my master, I know that He is desirous for all to come to salvation when he returns. Readiness, then, takes the form of deeply engaging with God’s word, prayerfully connecting with God daily through confession and petition (for my own personal relationship with Him) and loving the people God has placed in my life. It is an active readiness through regularly engaging God, knowing His heart for His people, and loving others around me so that they may draw closer to God. And through this kind of active relating with God, of being familiar with His ways, His desires, His tendencies, then it prepares me to recognize Christ when he knocks upon my life to enter. It’s this active readiness that will train me to open that door immediately, again and again, because I have come to know his voice, his steps, his knocking. And it becomes a joy to hear that familiar knocking of Christ upon my life such that at the end of my life, it will be a joy again to hear that final knock where he becomes, like the master in the parable, the one who becomes a servant himself to bring me into the heavenly banquet. No wonder the servant can have such commitment to him; it’s the tender love of the master that has won him over. Similarly, God’s love for me, the salvation that I now have in Him, must be the driving force to keep me steadfast in my devotion to Him, so that I’m eagerly waiting for His arrival.

This also means that other uses of the servant’s time can be a distraction. It would be so absurd if he wanted to explore other cities, draft up plans for his future career, etc., and therefore neglect the state of the household. It will take his time and focus away from the master and what he needs to do to ready himself. The master might come and find the household in disarray, and be in bewilderment as to why the servant wasn’t prepared when it should have been clear what his purpose was. Applying this to a disciple’s life, there can be distractions of money, career, pursuing romance or comfort that will get in the way of readying myself for Christ’s arrival. In the same way, knowing that God wants his followers to ready themselves through a daily relationship with Him and taking his gospel to others, it is truly an absurd thing to lose my focus and pursue other things that cause me to forget my role as the servant.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I pray that You would give me a steadfast spirit to be like this loyal servant who is eagerly waiting for the coming his master. I confess that there have been times when I become distracted by other things, whether it’s the laziness of my flesh that doesn’t want to keep watch over others, wanting to pursue a comfortable life that keeps me from being “ready for service.” But Lord, this is so inappropriate and is absurd when my role as Your servant is clearly to be readying myself for Your coming. Please keep me vigilant, even in the second, and third watch when I am tempted to give myself more excuses to take a break. I pray that You would keep me from the distractions that often creep up into my life so that I can be found as that faithful servant who knows how to immediately open the door to my life when You knock. Amen.

Submitted by Daryl W. of Gracepoint Austin Church

Luke 12:35-40

  • What is surprising about the master’s reward for the servant/manager who is ready when returns?

Up until the middle of verse 37, it seems like a normal human story, until suddenly the master takes off his expensive clothes and descends to serve his servants!  It is not just a one-way transaction of serving; the master is not just receiving and exploiting his servants as a worldly master normally does – he actually wants to equally enrich their lives! It’s an absurdity because of the normally ruthless, selfish, coldly cut-throat ways of the vast majority of those who are successful or wealthy.

  • What does this response reveal about his heart?

This shows that the master does not want to lord over those who are serving him.  This master in fact wants the best for his people.  The servants are not there just to make his life easier – he in fact wants their lives to be full and rich, well-provided for.  They do not just serve a purpose for him; ultimately his desire is to serve a purpose for them.  He desires a fully reciprocal relationship.

This is different than how I often view serving God or being watchful.  It is sometimes not with the eagerness to engage with Him, or to deepen my relationship with Him and experience His intended blessings for my life. Sometimes I can shallowly see it as the proper way to live as someone in my position at church.  But if I take time to look back at how richly I have been blessed while trying to be faithful to God, I see that God’s intention for me was much higher than what I had even for myself – richly committed relationships and eternally significant work, as well as His constant provision of perfect timing for employment, for a healthy foundation for marriage, for needed resources and capacity when having a child, for protecting me from the deceitfulness of this world about what to live for (money, fleeting and harmful pleasures, humanistic good, etc.).  Though it is only appropriate to serve my God and Creator even without anything in return, it is virtually undeniable from the sum of my experiences that His intention is to enrich and strengthen me in all areas of my life.

Luke 12:41-46

  • What is the master’s expectation for the servant?

The master’s expectation for the servant is that he simply be faithful, consistent in his job, for as long as need be.  He simply is expected to be trustworthy to continue doing what he is assigned no matter how long it takes for the master to return.

  • What might have been the unfaithful servant’s thinking as he was saying to himself “My master is taking a long time in coming.”?

The unfaithful servant was possibly simply considering how to best take advantage of a situation for himself.  He was not at all thinking about the larger goals of the master; he did not have any personal sense of ownership over the master’s household.  He has no concern or personal allegiance with the master – his mentality is “how can I maximize what I get out of my current situation?  How can I best take advantage of my circumstances to most benefit myself? What can I get away with to most enjoy the moment?”  There was no sense of integrity or higher standards that bind him to his master besides his master’s punishment, and even impending punishment that felt far away ceased to affect his behavior.

  • How is my sensitivity to consequences?  Does my sensitivity diminish as long as it won’t happen today?  Or not until next month?  Next year?  Next decade?

The media or advertisers tell me that it’s ok to work for immediate gratification and live ultimately for myself.  My sinfulness manifests itself in rebellious tendencies against those who place restrictions on me, even if it is intended for my own good.  So I often am more responsive to more immediate consequences of others’ opinions than the most important consequences.  I might think “what will others think of me if I say/do ____?” rather than “how does God view this kind of attitude?” or “what kind of person am I becoming if I do/say ____?”  The latter are questions of greatest consequence, but the former is a question of immediate pleasure or pain.  This is just pure short-sighted foolishness.

My decision to say something harsh or sarcastic might be based on who might hear it and how they might react, rather than what kind of reputation I am developing, what kind of habits of speech I am cultivating, and how forgiving a person I am becoming (and how it will harm those I interact with over time, such as my wife!).  Another example is if I expend the time and emotional effort to correct my toddler son, or just let it slide so I can get other things done… and have much more difficult demons to battle in the future.  Any tendency to only consider the immediate consequences is immaturity that needs to be struggled with in order to relate more authentically with God – to truly have that audience of one that does not live for temporary ease or pleasure, but can live with the bigger picture in mind and God’s vision and heart in mind for myself and others.

Luke 12:47-48

  • Out of the 3 characters represented in this parable – servant/manager, menservants/maidservants, unbelievers, who is in the most privileged position?  Why?

The servant/manager is in the most privileged position because he has the master’s trust.  He has the opportunity and the resources to serve – he has been entrusted with others’ well-being.  He has the closest relationship with the master, and the ability to help (or harm) the menservant and maidservants.  He has the most significant work, the highest calling.

  • Which character do I identify with?

I have been in all of these places – an unbeliever who did not understand the ways of the Master (God) nor desired them.  I then became a manservant – accepted into the household but simply a member, trying to understand the Master and trying to figure out how to relate with him properly.  Now I find myself having been raised up and trained in what the Master is like, having been convinced of the Master’s goodness and being entrusted with his work and his people.  And now having more of a potential to harm or help others with the resources/position/opportunities that God has given me.  It is scary to consider again how the position God has placed me in could be used so wrongly, but also a tremendous privilege that He would want to use me in such a way in others’ lives – bringing them closer to who He is and to salvation and eternal love!

  • What has God entrusted me with?

He has entrusted me with basic abilities through a privileged upbringing and education.  He has entrusted me with a depth of understanding of Him through His word and through the intentional training of this church.  Likewise, He has entrusted me with a share in this community that is really trying to live out the biblical picture of the church and a relationship with Him, and a heritage of sacrifice and zeal for God.  I have been entrusted with money and possessions, (even though they may feel limited and scarce – I have always had enough)!  I have been entrusted with an active ministry – with a relatively thriving church that is equipped to serve people who want to seriously engage with God.

  • How have I been responsible with this privilege?

My appreciation for these privileges has been a slow process, for sure, requiring a lot of work by others who care about me to get me to see what I have, and how to appropriately respond to the reality around me – the character flaws I have that must be struggled with in order to have any positive effect on others, the passion that is appropriate to see wrongs righted by the gospel and lives turned to genuine devotion to God.  I can’t say that I have been faithful – I have missed many opportunities to humbly engage with Him and grow with the resources available to me, and to opportunities to serve those around me and bring in the ‘unbelievers’ to a better understanding of the Master.  I am thankful for those who are older than me who have given me a picture of what it looks like to be responsible for the people that I am and can be affecting – and through them I see that I have deeper thinking that I can be doing, more intentional proactive-ness in having vision for our church, and more regular prayerfulness for those who are entrusted to my care.

  • What is the cost when I fail to fulfill my responsibility?

The cost of mishandling what the Master has entrusted to me is scary – peril to the eternal trajectory of individuals I influence or could influence, the degradation of our chuch’s overall standard of devotion and engagement with God and His will, the strength and morale of my family and closest relationships, and my own spiritual dullness or distance from God.

  • What is my attitude towards my Master’s return?  How is this reflected in my life?

My attitude is of yearning for His righteousness in my and others’ lives when I take the time to consider in prayer the greater picture of my life.  Also, through recent events of carrying others’ pains and burdens, those have made me more heaven-focused, and thus desiring to make my life more focused on eternal impact in people’s lives.

PERSONAL PRAYER                                                                     

Please write out a prayer of commitment or confession either based on today’s text or upon reflection over recent events in your life.

Lord, I recognize that the best way to live is acknowledging who You are and what You have called me to on a daily basis.  It is so easy to live for the immediate consequences, ultimately causing me to live out of pride and selfishness, when I don’t consider the greater truths of my life and my ultimate destination.  Help me to not turn Your mercy in my life (of wrath withheld) to a curse – by doing things in Your name for my own purposes.  I want to take the time to remember You and my relationship with You in order to view and respond to others, to opportunities, and to my feelings in a way that is most appropriate.  You have entrusted me with so much, invested in me so intensely through people and this church, and to not serve You with integrity and zeal is a travesty against You. So I am sorry for the times when I fail to take advantage of and fully engage the opportunities I have to be used by You and further Your kingdom.  I confess that I have much maturing to do in my view of myself and reality, and in being a faithful steward to all You have done in my life and have placed in my hands to serve You with.  I want to live before You, my Master and my King, in a real relationship of love and gratitude!

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