Knowledge is a good thing; it helps us manage our lives better. Knowing what time work or school starts helps us plan when to get out of bed, clean up, and have breakfast. Knowing how long it takes to get to a place helps us determine what time we should leave in order to be punctual.
When children know what time their parents will be back home, they make sure they clean up their mess before then, or complete whatever chores they are assigned. Spouses start meal preparation at a time that allows them to have a hot meal ready by the time they expect the other home.
Knowing that the Lord is coming back soon, or that He will be calling us home any day now, should help us prepare, because it is not a matter of if, but when. So when is He coming back, or when is He going to take us home? The Scripture says no one knows the time, except the Lord, not even the angels. The day will be unannounced, and that is why we always have to be ready, living expectantly, with the knowledge that either event could happen any day, at any time (Lk 12:40, Mt 24:42, Mk 13:32, Eccl 9:12).
In preparation for His return, we need to be:
Living right – John reminds Christians (us), “Continue in him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming” (1Jn 2:28). Wouldn’t you be ashamed to be living in sin, doing something you know is wrong, when He appears? I am sure you would be, and so would I.
Working diligently – The Bible tells us, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom” (Eccl 9:10). Also, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, who the Master puts in charge of His servants…It will be good for that servant whom the Master finds doing so when He returns (Lk 12:42-43). Again, “Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58). Accountability should be one of our biggest concerns. We will have to show how we’ve lived, using the gifts and talents, opportunities and resources entrusted to us in this life. (Mt 12:36, Rom 14:12, Heb 4:13). We also need to remember that with every passing day, we have less time in which to work, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (Jn 9:4).
Warning the unsaved – Jesus tells us in John’s gospel, “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (Jn 3:18). This makes it clear there is trouble ahead for unbelievers. Should we go about, not caring what happens to them? Is that the attitude God wants us to take? Of course not; Paul addresses this issue this way, “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor 5:11), and Jude expresses the urgency of the situation by saying, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them” (Jude 22-23). Family members, friends, and neighbors could be in serious trouble, depending on what they do or don’t believe. Let us help them escape God’s judgment.
Enduring persecution and trials with the right attitude – the following verses teach us the right attitude toward suffering. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Mt 5:11-12a). “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Lk 6:27b-28). After being flogged for preaching the Word, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41). James encourages us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds” (Ja 1:2).
The Lord promised to reward our faithfulness when He returns. Receiving rewards however, should not be our motivation for service and obedience to Him. After we’ve completed our assigned tasks, the Scripture says we should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty” (Jn 17:10b). Whether we expect rewards or not, He has promised them (Mt 5:12a), so we can thankfully and expectantly look forward to enjoying them. The apostle Paul reminds us of the same thing when he told the Church at Corinth, “The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose and each will be rewarded according to his own labor” (1 Cor 3:8).
May our knowledge of the future encourage us to be all that we need to be in the present, so that when He appears, we can confidently report, “Sir, your mina has earned ten more” and expect this response, “”Well done, my good servant! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities” (Lk 19:16-17).