“Complacent In The Delay”   (April 2006)

The Bible teaches clearly that the Lord will return to the earth again one day and receive His people to Himself; He will bring judgment on the earth; and He will establish His kingdom here forever.  Reading the Bible is like watching the news on television or reading the current headlines in the newspaper.  The events that mark the return of Christ are happening around us every day.  Even those who don’t know Christ as Savior and aren’t familiar with the teaching of the Bible know that something is “up”- they know that this world cannot continue on the path that it is going without something drastic happening- they just don’t know what it is, but we do.  The earth is “groaning in travail” awaiting the return of the Lord. (Romans 8:19-23)  In light of the fact that the return of the Lord is “on the horizon” I am alarmed at how “complacent” I see many Christians becoming.  If you ask them, they all agree that the Lord is returning soon- many believe it will happen in their life time.  Yet at the same time, they are living like it will never happen.   

Jesus gave us many parables about His return.  In those parables He showed the condition of two groups of His servants upon His return.  There will be those who will be blessed and those who will receive punishment.  Those who will be blessed are the ones who He will find “doing” and not just “saying” at His return.  “And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.  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.  And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.  And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?  Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.” (Luke 12:36-38; 42-44)  It’s the second group that concerns me- evidently, it concerns the Lord too because He placed a warning in this parable before He described the second group of servants.  “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12:40)

Who is this other group that He is talking about?  “But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;  The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.  And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luke 12:45-47)  It’s those who say in their heart that the Lord is “not coming any time soon” and even though they know His will, they do not prepare themselves for His return, and don’t do His will.  When a person gets in the “frame of mind” that even though they know He will return, and even though they know the signs are pointing to His return, and even though they know they should be preparing for it, if they allow themselves to believe a lie (planted by the enemy) that the “Lord delays His coming”, they will act as if He’s not coming soon.  This is when you stop living in an attitude of expectation.  I can remember being taught as a little girl that the Lord was “coming soon”.  We were also taught that you better not be doing anything or be anywhere that you wouldn’t want Him to catch you at or doing because He could come any minute.  It really kept you on your guard- you didn’t want Jesus to catch you doing anything you shouldn’t be doing.  If you really believe He could come at an moment, you will live your life like your belief.  I am afraid that we believe His return is soon only with a “head knowledge”, not with our hearts.

I want to talk about this group who believes, lives and acts like their Lord is delaying His coming.  My hope is that as you read this you will allow the search light of the Holy Spirit to shine in your heart and reveal to you which group you are in.  Are you living like He really could come today?  Or are you living like He is delaying His return?  Are you living a complacent (unconcerned) life?  Or are you living in watchful anticipation of His return?  “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.  Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.  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, and commanded the porter to watch.  Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning.” (Mark 13:32-35)

What are some of the signs of a complacent life in regard to the return of the Lord?  One of the signs is found in the Book of 1 Samuel- it’s a good spiritual parallel of what we are talking about.  “And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.  And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.” (1 Samuel 13:8,9)  Samuel had given Saul instructions to wait at Gilgal and he would return in seven days, but Samuel didn’t return when Saul thought he was so Saul decided to offer the burnt offering himself.  This was disobedience based on the fact that Saul thought Samuel was delaying his coming so he had to take matters into his own hands.  If the Lord hasn’t returned when you thought He would you tend to think that He is delaying His coming, therefore, it will cause you to move in disobedience by not giving heed to the commandments in the way you should.  If you could get the “inside scoop” on when the Lord was going to return, you would take the commandments more seriously and do all in your power to keep them.  But if you think He is not coming today, you’ll be “careless” about keeping His commands and act in the way that you see best- like Saul.

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.  And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” (Matthew 25:1,2,5)  While they were waiting for the bridegroom to come, they got sleepy (also translated- careless).  Five of them were so careless that even though they had their lamps with them, they didn’t take extra oil for them.  Just because it may appear that our Bridegroom is tarrying His coming, we must guard against being careless with our relationship with Him.  I thought it was interesting that the same Greek words that are used here for “slumber and slept” also mean- to be negligent, careless; to yield to sloth and sin; to be indifferent to one's salvation.  This is the same word that was used when the disciples fell asleep on Jesus while He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  “And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?  Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:37,38)  Sleep- carelessness with your salvation is another sign that you are complacent concerning the return of the Lord.  “For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we do not belong either to the night or to darkness.  Accordingly then, let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard) and let us be sober (calm, collected, and circumspect).” (1 Thessalonians 5:5,6- Amplified Bible)  Which one describes you?  Sleep- carelessness; slothful; negligent?  Or awake- alert; watchful; on guard?  Samson fell asleep on the lap of Delilah when he should have stayed awake and on guard.  When the cry came that the Philistines were upon him, he woke up only to realize that his strength was gone.  “And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.  And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.” (Judges 16:19,20)  I brought this story of Samson up because it reminded me of the five foolish virgins.  They both were foolish, and careless, with the things that they should have been careful to maintain- the virgins with their oil, and Samson with his hair.  Samson had no idea that he had lost what he needed until it was too late; neither did the virgins.  If only they had stayed awake.  If we don’t stay awake we can easily find ourselves in the same place as the foolish virgins and Samson.  “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” (Matthew 25:6)  This should be a “wake up” call to us all. 

Jesus also compared His coming to the time of Noah.  “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark.” (Matthew 24:36-38)  There will be nothing “unusual” about the day that the Lord returns- things will be going on as usual.  On the day when the Lord returns it will be “business as usual” up until the moment He returns.  If He doesn’t come in the morning people will get up, have breakfast, and go to work or school just as they do every morning.  Things will be the same as they have been day after day after day.  Because things are going “as usual”, they assume that He is delaying His coming so they stop “watching”.  If you aren’t watching, you are complacent.  What does it mean to watch?  Watch is defined in the Greek as-  give strict attention to, be cautious, active; to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one.  “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:3,4, 8-10)  The verse above says that if you aren’t watching, that day can come upon you like a “thief in the night”.  “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2)  If you think that He has delayed His coming because nothing is different; everyday life is going on as usual; if you think that His coming hasn’t happened yet so maybe it won’t; you will quit watching.  “And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.” (Luke 12:39)  That day is only going to take you by surprise- like a thief- if you aren’t watching.  “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4)  “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 25:13)

Another characteristic of those who are complacent about the return of the Lord is found in our opening verses- “But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;  The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.  And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luke 12:45-47)  “...and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens.”  There is a lack of love in the life of one who believes that the Lord is delaying His coming.  In short, there is no fruit in his life.  He begins to mistreat others. There is no compassion for his fellow servants or those who aren’t ready to meet the Lord when He returns.  He doesn’t care about others.  “...and to eat and drink and to be drunken”.  He is a self-centered person instead of God-centered or others-centered.  He has become preoccupied with self and what makes him happy.  He has become caught up in the things of this world and become a “lover of self” and a “lover of pleasure more than a lover of God”. (2 Timothy 3:2,4)

When the Lord returns- and He will return- where will you find yourself?  The Bible tells us that there will be two groups and we will be in one or the other.  Which one will you be in?  The group that is blessed or punished? (Luke 12)  Among the five wise or five foolish virgins? (Matthew 25)  Will you be the one taken or the one left in the field? (Matthew 24:40)  The sheep or the goat? (Matthew 25:32)  The wheat or the tares? (Matthew 13:30)  Don’t let complacency toward His return cause you to be caught unaware.  There is a final warning to us concerning the day of His return.  If we will heed the warning, we will be among those who are wise and blessed at His return.  “Watch out! Don't let me find you living in careless ease and drunkenness, and filled with the worries of this life. Don't let that day catch you unaware, as in a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth.” (Luke 21:34, 35- New Living Translation)