Week 10: Be Watchful
A guard who falls asleep on duty
is negligent of his duty and makes himself vulnerable to the enemy. As
Christians, we cannot afford to slumber. Too much is at risk. If we fall asleep
spiritually, we will decline in our faith, we will fail to carry out our
mission, and we will become Satan’s prey. As the Lord’s servants, if we do not
watch, we will be caught by surprise when the Lord comes (cf. ). He will assign us a
place with the unbelievers (Lk -46). Since watchfulness is so critical
in maintaining our faith and Christian duty, the Lord Jesus emphatically warns
his followers, “what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mk 13:37).
Being watchful means being
spiritually awake and focused on your priorities. you
are always examining your own faith. It means that you constantly examine
yourself to see where your faith stands. Self-examination often occurs in
prayer, so prayer and watchfulness go hand in hand (Mt 26:41; Eph 6:18; Col 4:2).
The Bible warns, “Let him who
thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor
10:12). As a maturing disciple, you must learn how to be spiritually vigilant
(Mk 13:33-37; Acts 20:31; 1 Cor. 16:13; 1Thess
5:6-8). Being overly confident in your spiritual walk with God can mean certain
spiritual failure in your faith.
The apostle Peter, one of Jesus’
closest disciples, was not watchful after Jesus told him to be watchful;
instead, Peter fell asleep as Jesus fervently prayed for the strength to drink
God’s bitter cup of trials (Mt 26:36-46). As Peter progressed in his faith, he
clearly began to better understand the role being watchful played in a
Christian’s spiritual walk. So late in his life, Peter warned believers to be
watchful of the devil, who is, spiritually speaking, a roaring lion seeking to
devour the spiritual life and vitality of Christians (1 Pet 5:8). In this
lesson, we shall study the importance of being watchful in our own journey of
Some Basic Principles
Examine All Things Carefully.
An important Biblical principle
for being watchful is to test and examine all things carefully, holding fast to
what is good (1Thess ).
Whether you are examining your actions or motives, you must carefully weigh
whether your actions and motives are godly and righteous. Being watchful means
you must have the right actions and motives. Remember that God examines your
inner heart and motivation, not your outward religiosity or actions (Jer 12:3).
Look Out For Your Weakness.
Being watchful means being wary
of your fleshly weaknesses and Satan’s attacks (Mt 26:41; 1 Pet 5:8). To be
watchful, you must first understand that you have weaknesses. In times when you
feel spiritually weak, you must be extra careful and watchful over your faith
because God’s judgment can be just around the corner (Rev 3:2,3;
). Moreover, as
Christians, we must be alert and ready for Jesus’ Second Coming (Mk -37).
Be Equipped with the Armor of God.
You are in a spiritual battle, so
you must be watchful. The Bible often connects watchfulness with guard duty and
battle, but don’t confuse spiritual battle with physical battle. You can’t beat
the devil with a bat over the head. It is only by having the right spiritual
armor and weapons that you can effectively engage in spiritual warfare. Through
constant practice of God’s word and relying on God’s power, we train ourselves
to be effective Christian soldiers who can stand firm in the faith (Eph
6:11-18; 1Thess 5:1-9).
Do Not Be Overly
Remember pride and
over-confidence will lead to your spiritual downfall. (1 Cor
). Complacency is one
of the leading causes of spiritual stagnancy. When you feel that you know God
well enough, or that you have done enough sacred work, that’s the moment when
your spiritual growth comes to a standstill. You will remain stagnant until you
humble yourself again and seek further progress. The Laodicean
church suffered from over-confidence (see -22). Thus the Lord commanded them, “Therefore be
zealous and repent” ().
They must wake up from their self-conceit, see their spiritual poverty, and
restore their fervor.
Self-examination Leads to Repentance.
It was only after Jesus had
looked at Peter (when he had already denied him three times) that Peter saw
past his outward actions and saw within himself. It was a single look from his
suffering master, Jesus, that pierced Peter’s
conscience and forced him to look within himself. And it was only after he
looked within that he realized how horribly he wronged Jesus by denying his
master three times (Lk -62). Still, the Lord Jesus prayed for Peter and was
willing to take Peter back after he had repented of his sin (Lk ).
Likewise, only after you repent of your sins can you return to God (Lam ).
Watch Out for the Faith of Your Brothers- and
Being watchful can include
watching out for the faith of other brothers and sisters, in addition to
watching out for your own faith (Acts 20:28; Eph 6:18). God’s overseers and
holy workers have a special duty to watch over the believers’ faith (Acts ; Heb ). So along this vein, the apostle Paul
says in the same breath “bear one another’s burdens” and “bear your own load”
(Gal 6:2, 5). The burden Paul speaks of in Galatians chapter 6 may refers to
the burden a believer feels living a sinful life. This is the principle: you
must examine your own faith and work before you can help uphold another’s
faith. Always try to restore the faith of those who are caught in sin versus
beating them down (Gal 6:1). So being watchful over yourself
can be seen as a prerequisite to being watchful over others. If you can do more
self-examining and less outward judging you won’t easily fall into temptation’s
Reflect on Yourself during the Sacraments.
Partaking in holy sacraments at
church require serious self-examination, especially or the sacrament of Holy
Communion. The Bible teaches you to examine yourself before you partake in the
sacrament of Holy Communion (1 Cor ). The principle you can gather from this
Biblical teaching is that partaking in the sacraments (through which you
partake of Jesus’ life) means you yourself must be holy. That is, to be part of
Christ’s body (the church) and to partake of Jesus’ life requires holiness and
The most practical step in being
watchful is to constantly examine yourself. The Bible
says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves”
(2 Cor 13:5). So the Bible encourages you to
self-examine to see if you are approved in Jesus Christ. Ask yourself some
basic questions. Do I still enjoy studying God’s word and prayer as I used to?
Do I still have the fervor to serve the Lord? Do I still feel the love for
others? Self-examination helps you re-evaluate your relationship with the Lord
and discover where you have fallen short. Self-examination also keeps you
spiritually alert and prevents you from complacency.
Watch and Pray.
Again, prayer and watchfulness go
hand in hand. Prayer is probably the most effective way to self-examine your
faith and spiritual conditioning. As you close your eyes in prayer, try to shut
out the outside world and look deeply within. Try to focus on your relationship
with God and you’ll find out that the self-examination of your faith will be
much more effective. There are many ways you can watchfully pray. Pray that God
examines you (Ps 26:2). Pray with thanksgiving (Col 4:2). Pray in intercessory prayer for
others (Eph ).
Read God’s Word.
The scriptures will become a
mirror by which you can see yourself (Jas ). However, you must remember that self-examination
means nothing if no action is taken to improve upon what you’ve examined or
seen needs improvement (Jas 1: 22, 24).
Keep Track of Your Faith Journey.
Keep a diary or some kind of
record of how you view your spiritual condition. Keeping a written record may
help force you to examine yourself because you have to put it on paper. The key
to this technique is that you have to be very honest in your record keeping
(i.e., you have to honestly look at yourself and record what needs improving).
Don’t just make false records of how great you are, which could easily become a
Ask Others to Help You. Your brothers- and
sisters-in Christ can help you maintain watchfulness in your faith.
The reason it’s good to live and
fellowship with other believers (whether it’s family or friends) is that you
can encourage and be watchful over one another’s faith. It’s often hard to
maintain your spiritual vigilance when you’re all by yourself, which is why it
is important to continuously attend Sabbath services and fellowship with other
brothers and sisters.
Write down other guidelines that
have worked for you.
Write down new ideas that could
work for you.
Why is it important for you to be watchful in
your journey of faith?
How can you be watchful in your journey of
You need to be constantly aware of your
weaknesses and Satan’s attacks if you are to be effective in your watchfulness.
Pride and over-confidence are good tools to being
a watchful Christian. T/F
If we’re not watchful of our spiritual
condition, we will not know when we should repent of our sins and whether our
actions are righteous. T/F
What does watchfulness have to do with the
Before we take part in the Holy Communion, we
must ____________ ______________.
Prayer and Bible reading are two good practical
ways to be watchful in our faith. T/F
How can keeping a diary help you to be watchful?
We must be watchful in our journey of faith (a)
once a month (b) once a week (c) once a day (d) every day (e) every minute of
is a fervent believer. In the three years that he has been baptized, he has
attended every church service. He prays three times a day, and he reads three
chapters of the Bible every day. Over lunch one sabbath day, someone mentioned that Randy should lead
their Bible study sessions from now on. Everyone within earshot agreed. “Yeah,”
Randy thinks to himself, “I should be in charge. Out
of everyone here, I’m the most dedicated and faithful.” He says to the group,
“Ok, I accept the position. I’m confident I can do a good job. I want you all
to know that I fast and pray every morning, so I’m very spiritually qualified
to lead the Bible studies. Mind you, I’ve read the Bible three times over. I
sure know it like the back of my hand.” Anna, who was listening intently, tells
Randy, “You’re full of it.” Hurt, Randy’s face turns red. Randy decides he
won’t come to church anymore. A few weeks later, Randy confronts Anna over the
telephone. Flabbergasted, Anna brings her indignation to church. When the
brothers and sisters tell her to apologize to Randy, Anna couldn’t believe her
ears. That sabbath, Anna
decides she too has had enough of church. How could Randy, Anna, and the brothers
and sisters have all been more watchful? What do you think about Randy’s faith?
How would you counsel Anna, without getting sucked into a vicious cycle?
Rose, is by nature, a very helpful person. When
she was newly baptized, many brothers and sisters sought her out when they
needed a listening ear. Unfortunately, one by one, they would discover that
each time one of them confided in Rose, the whole church would soon hear all
about it. Before long, Rose finds that no one needed her ear anymore. Rose is confused.
“That’s funny,” she thinks to herself one day. Think about or discuss the role
self-examination could play in resolving Rose’s confusion. How could a little
more self-examination help Rose’s ministry to other members? Do you see a
relationship between self-examination and the efficacy of one’s ministerial
of the practical steps mentioned above was to keep a diary or some kind of
record of your spiritual condition. However, remember that the key to
effectively gauging your spiritual condition on paper is that you have to be
very honest in your record keeping. Try to make a diary entry on your spiritual
conditioning at least every two or three days. Think about recent events or
decisions in your life that you think God may not have approved of. What is the
source of the problem? Why do you think God might not have approved of that
event or decision in your life? How can you better the situation and your
spiritual conditioning? After you examine the flaws in your situation or spiritual
condition, try to do something about it. Remember, being watchful over a bad
situation doesn’t mean the situation gets better spontaneously. Unless you do
something after examining a bad situation, watching over a bad situation is
just that—watching. A palace watchman who sees the enemy attacking the palace
and keeps silent is about as useful as a watchman who was asleep.