As one can see, the word “vigilance,” which I have chosen for the title of this devotion, comes from the word, “vigil,” which means to keep watch, keep awake, or guard, as on the eve of a holy day, as was the case in the Middle Ages. This is a practice few in the Church keep anymore. It was a practice especially kept on the Saturday night before Easter, with prayers and liturgies, keeping watch for the resurrection of our Lord.
Today’s passage is about “keeping watch” for our Lord’s coming – his Second Coming, to be exact. I suppose it could be extended to refer to anytime our Lord may call us to ministry or service which we must be prepared to render to another. But I really don’t want to water down the meaning here. The images are powerful: the messianic banquet at the end of time when our Lord will actually serve those who were waiting and found faithful upon his return (he’ll serve us?); and the harsh treatment of those found unfaithful when he returns, who were not only not watching and waiting but behaving wickedly, which is to be expected when servants stop watching and waiting. We are either faithful or faithless, either doing good deeds or evil deeds. We are never at rest in the eyes of our Lord; we are either growing in grace or growing in wickedness.
Indeed, the wicked servant is wicked because he tells himself, “My master is delayed in his coming.” It is then that he begins to abuse those around him. This shows how vital to our faith and holiness a proper understanding of our Lord’s Second Coming is for us. I agree with the saying that “integrity is what you are when no one else is watching.” But we must always be mindful that our heavenly Father is watching – and He expects us to be watching as well – watching for His Son’s return. When we are about to go somewhere, we prepare, we get ready, we pack our bags, we organize our things. Indeed, when it’s a place we want to visit, we’ll even endure a long drive or the cost of plane tickets, for the joy of reaching our destination. Well, God’s people are supposed to be preparing for a wonderful trip, an exciting trip that will not be just a visit but a glorious change and permanent new home in glory. In anticipation for that trip, we must be about our Father’s business – rooting sin out of our lives, killing the old man and putting on the new, serving others in Jesus’ name, warning others that his return is imminent and the time short. In my Grandmother’s old country church, they would sing, “I’ll Fly Away,” with an intensity that could be felt. May we live our lives with the same intensity before the Day of his return.