Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath set over his household, to give them their food in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he hath. But if that evil servant shall say in his heart, ‘My lord tarrieth’; and shall begin to beat his fellow-servants, and shall eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:45-51).
Those who have experienced high school remember the “pop quiz.” Many times a teacher would announce to the class that a pop quiz might be given at some point during the class over a week or so.
Some students would pay little to no concern and expect to fail anyway. Other students would be more forgetful or concerned with other matters, be it other subjects or various extracurricular activities. Such students would either cram at the last minute or hope that the pop quiz would come on another day. And then there were the students who studied the material and were ready. It would not matter whether the pop quiz were today, tomorrow, or merely an idle threat. All would be well.
Jesus has made it clear that one day we will all experience the ultimate pop quiz: a judgment on our lives, based on our deeds (John 12:48, Romans 2:6-11). The “pop quiz” may come because Jesus has returned and the Judgment is taking place (cf. Matthew 25). The “pop quiz” may instead come because your life on earth has ended, whether expected or not (James 4:14). Regardless, this is no idle threat– each and every one of us will stand before God one day (Acts 17:30-31, Romans 14:12)!
What students will we be like? Will be like the students who have no concern, and be people so active in sin that we pay no regard to righteousness, and expect to be condemned at the Judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9)?
Or will we be like the students who were forgetful or concerned about other matters? Will we get so busy in life’s various activities, whether profitable or not, and either forget about or not have time for service to God? Do we put obeying God out in the future, expecting the opportunity to “cram” our time of service when we get just a little older, get a bit more settled, gain some maturity, wait until the children are grown, and so on and so forth? Do we secretly hope that Jesus will put off His coming for just a little while longer?
Or are we as the prepared students, serving God and striving to do the best we can to please Him at all times?
When that day comes, there will only be two types of people: those who are ready, and those who are not (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10). All the excuses and justifications in the world will not be sufficient to release us from condemnation if we die or the Lord returns and we are like the wicked servant or the foolish virgins (cf. Matthew 24:48-25:13). Failing a pop quiz– or even a class– was not the end of our world. But failing this ultimate Judgment means condemnation– weeping and gnashing of teeth (cf. Matthew 24:51)!
We do not need to live in perpetual fear of the Lord’s return. We need to be His obedient servants, doing the best we can with the gifts we have been given to glorify God (Matthew 25:14-30). If we are in that condition, we can be ready for Jesus to return today, tomorrow, or in a thousand years. It will not matter if we leave this earth today, tomorrow, or many years from now. Let us be continually prepared for the ultimate pop quiz and serve God daily!
Ethan R. Longhenry