The other night, we were just getting everyone settled into bed when all of the sudden, the newest member of our family began to bark in the kitchen. Though Basset Hounds are not necessarily known for their ferocity, this particular bark sounded like something was seriously amiss. So, I went into the kitchen to see him trying to get to the Basset Hound that was standing on the other side of the sliding glass door. That other Basset Hound was barking in unison with Wilson and was mirroring every move.
Of course, what you and I know as a mere reflection, Wilson saw as a threat to his official title as “Top Dog” of our home. I’m not too sure how great of a guard dog Wilson the Basset Hound is going to be, but I know if there’s ever a sinister, floppy-eared, sad-faced intruder lurking around on the back porch that Wilson’s got our back.
Although I’ve never seen it listed as a “Christian virtue,” being alert is certainly something that is expected from the follower of Jesus. The Bible says that we should be alert for…
- Temptation (Mark 14:38)
- False teachers (Acts 20:29-31)
- Satan’s schemes (1 Peter 5:8)
- The return of Jesus (Matthew 24:42)
A key aspect of being alert is being mindful of your own tendencies. In Mark 14:38, Jesus warns the disciples to stay awake so they don’t fall into temptation. If they had taken him seriously, they might have paid a little more attention to their fatigued condition and made a quick Starbucks run to make sure they could get through the night. Is there a particular sin that you know you struggle with, then be alert and avoid places where that temptation may take over.
Being alert also means that you have to know what you believe. Paul warned the leaders of the Ephesian church in Acts 20 to be alert to the “wolves” that would arrive after his departure. These wolves would come in teaching false doctrines in order to deceive the church. In order to defend against this, they must be alert, paying attention to “the word of [God’s] grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
Part of being alert is being aware of your circumstances. In 1 Peter 5:8, Satan is compared to a lurking lion. Something tells me that if you were working in the yard and a great big lion was sitting at the curb that you would be very much alert to his activity. Since I’ve not seen any lions roaming around the neighborhood, we don’t have to worry about that – but we do have something that is just as dangerous that IS lurking around, looking for a tasty Christian snack. So be alert!
Finally, Jesus warns us to be alert for His return. We do not want to be caught unaware. If we’re living for Jesus, then we’ve got nothing to be concerned about. But if we were honest with ourselves, we would probably all admit that we’re not as alert as we should be. Being alert for Jesus’ return means that we’re aware of the spiritual condition of our family, friends, and neighbors and we’re working to make sure that they know the greatest news that’s ever been told.
Time to Wake Up!