Dear Bride of Christ,

Alertness and Self Control

Paul, your great champion, never tired of writing you on this topic. To his co-worker Titus, Paul said: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." (Titus 2:11-14)

What is the burning desire of a Bride who is truly, in reality, "waiting for her blessed hope--the glorious appearing" of her Groom? She will steer clear of worldly pursuits, ambitions, entertainment, fads, and all other entanglements that could steal her passion for her loved one. She will realize that friendship with the world makes her an enemy of her Beloved's Father and constitutes spiritual adultery (James 4:4). She will pursue attitudes and actions that will please Him: self-control, uprightness, godly living, purity, eagerness to do good.

Bride, are your assemblies filled with young people who stand in sharp contrast with their worldly peers in appearance, speech, character, attitudes, and activities? If an unbiased observer were to follow your members to their homes and businesses, would their lives look radically different from the world? If you long for your Groom's coming, that's how your "wedding dress" will look!

Paul made the same point when he wrote your Thessalonian children long ago: "You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night…But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." (1 Thess. 5:4-8)

Two key qualities must characterize you when Jesus comes: alertness and self control. Most people on planet earth, because they are children of darkness, are in a spiritual stupor. Snoring away, they live empty dreams, oblivious to the spiritual reality surrounding them. Most, too, are drunk on self-indulgent pursuits--accumulating wealth, soaking in ungodly entertainment, satiating carnal appetites. Their lack of self control makes them stagger like drunken men, with no spiritual direction at all.

Please be honest, dear Bride: do those same traits not characterize a disheartening proportion of the people sitting in your pews? How many live in spiritual alertness when they are away from your meeting places? How many practice any significant self-denial in leisure, finances, or career decisions so that they can conserve their passion for Jesus, your Beloved? Where are there entire assemblies of believers who are "from the least to the greatest" loving Him intensely with one another, all day every day? Oh, Bride, if you are really longing for His soon appearing, why are you not alert and self controlled now?

Paul prayed for you to have an increasing love for Christ. "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God" (Phil. 1:9-11). If the Father answers Paul's prayer, what kind of Bride will Jesus return for? One whose love for Him teaches her to make wiser and wiser choices in how she lives, sorting out the best and rejecting what in the end will be fruitless, empty, and wasteful. One who will be pure, who refuses to offer her heart to selfish, worldly things. One who not only embraces the doctrine of righteousness through Christ, but whose life displays the fruit of that righteousness. One who brings honor and glory to His Father.

That prayer describes a woman who has made herself ready for her Groom. Will you prepare yourself for Him?

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