Written by Jason Worf
An oven should be a simple tool, with an uncomplicated purpose; you turn it on to a certain temperature, and expect it to bake your food. Our oven seemed to have a mind of its own. During the week Joelle, my wife, would put a casserole in to bake, and 45 minutes later a steaming hot pan would be ready for the table. But if she had the oven bake a casserole while we were away at church on Sabbath—planning on returning with friends, of course—the oven would shut off the burner while we were away and we'd return to find our food only half-baked! We figured out that our oven couldn’t be trusted with Sabbath lunch.
“Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.” Luke 12:42-43
In this parable Jesus also tells us to “stay dressed for action, and keep your lamps burning” and “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.” Luke 12:35, 37 These were Jesus’ last days with his disciples, and He wanted to prepare them for the time when he would no longer be with them. What was his message? Stay awake, even while the master is gone; keep working.
Paul had a similar purpose when writing to the people of Philippi:
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Phil 2:12-13
Just like Joelle and I wanted our oven to work when we were away at church, Paul wanted his converts to actively work out their own salvation, while he was away. He knew they had been great followers of Christ while he was there, but what would they do when their spiritual mentor left? Would their spiritual fervor turn cold?
Jesus wants us to be at work in His absence, but what work does He want us to do?
1) Stay dressed for action - put on the armor of God (Eph 6:10-20)
2) Keep your lamps burning - receive the Holy Spirit, and obey His conviction (Matt 25:1-13, Zech 4:1-6)
3) Stay awake - be diligent in prayer and study (Matt 26:40, 41)
4) Give them their food - share the Good News of Jesus with “his household,” the lost (Amos 8:11, John 6:35)
Are you a faithful oven? Will your master find you cooking when he returns?
Jason Worf is the director of Northwest Mission Institute.