6.2 Responsibility for Others

Mt. 24:42-50 teach that the servant who must feed the household with appropriate food represents each of us; he must watch for the Lord's return and be diligent in feeding the household; yet (it must be stressed), this parable is intended for each of us (cp. Mk. 13:37). If he doesn't do this, he is rejected. We are set a high standard here. Christ is "the goodman of the house", i.e. the senior slave who is responsible for all the others (Mt. 20:11), but here "the goodman of the house" represents each of us (Mt. 24:43; Lk. 12:39,40). We are  in Him, and therefore we must try to share  his level of concern for his household. He carried his cross for us, for our salvation. And he asks us to share His cross, i.e. His devotion to the body of believers, even unto death. If we are in Him, we too must devote ourselves to the saving of the body.

The "porter" was commanded to watch (Mk. 13:34); and he represents us all (Mk. 13:37). Yet the Lord was the porter (s.w. Jn. 10:1); we who are in Him are likewise. All that is true of Him is in some way true of us. Watching over God's household is an idea taken from Ez. 3:17; as the prophets were the watchmen of the house of Israel, so each of us are. When the Lord had earlier told this parable, Peter (like us) asked the obvious question: "Speakest  thou this parable unto us (the twelve in the first century), or even to all?" (Lk. 12:41). The Lord's basic reply was "To all", although he didn't say so explicitly. Instead he said that if the Lord of the servant was away and came back unexpectedly, late at night, what a joy it would be to him if he found the lights on and the servant working diligently in caring for the others; any servant doing that is going to give his Lord joy; 'So, Pete, don't think about whether others are called to do the job, this is the ideal servant, you're all servants, so you get on and try to be like this ideal servant!'. The porter's job was to keep out wolves; the Greek for "porter" literally means 'the watcher' (s.w. Jn. 10:1, another example of how the parables fit together). An apathy in looking out for false teachers means we aren't doing the porter's job well, we are sleeping rather than looking after the household. Mt. 24:43-45 define watching for Christ's return as tending to the needs of our brethren; this is what will lead our hearts towards preparedness for the second coming, this is the result of our awareness of the imminence of the Lord's return.

Taking responsibility for others is often thankless. Our human dysfunction cries out for affirmation, and we tend not to do those things for which we are not thanked. This is one of the most radical aspects of our calling as followers of Christ- to serve without being thanked. Belief in God’s judgment helps us with this. For all our works will be rewarded in some sense by Him at the last day. If we love those that love us, we have no “thank” (Lk. 6:32)- but we will have “thank”, or “praise of God” ultimately. And this is what ultimately matters. Nothing is done secretly that will not then come to the light (Lk. 8:17 RV)- and therefore we should come to the light right now, living life in God’s light and before His judgment (Jn. 3:20,21). This not only means we should not sin ‘in secret’, but more positively, we should feel and realize His constant affirmation of us for thoughts and actions which are invisible to others or for which we do not receive any thank. Paul talks of an “account” of good works that is ‘increased’ by each good work- an account not kept by us, but by the Father (Phil. 4:17).  And if we ‘increase’ in such acts of love, we increasingly have a heart unshaken by the prospect of judgment to come (1 Thess. 3:12).

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