Have you ever wondered what the most used application on your laptop is? What about the most used device in your home? I’m sure there are many right answers but here are my “riddle answers”. My answer to the first question is “your virus scan software”. It’s constantly running in the background without your knowledge to make sure your data, files, and content are not compromised by invisible malware. Similarly, my answer to the second question is “your security system or your smoke detector”. Even if your internet is down or lights are off, your smoke detector is constantly testing the air in your home for smoke particles that might signal a fire or carbon monoxide that might be lethally poisonous. Your security system is also monitoring constantly for unwanted intruders. Similar to the virus-scanner, the smoke detector, and a security system, there is one ministry especially in the home that is invisible, overlooked and often neglected - the ministry of the watchman.
Being a watchman is not just a calling for the elders in the church. It is even more relevant to us as fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives as we seek to raise godly households and families in the fear of the Lord. Just like a security guard or night watchman or security system, we must be on high alert for anything that compromises the home. Matthew 13:24-27 - Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. And when the wheat sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also became evident. And the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ The enemy is eager to plant small “weeds” of compromise in my home that conform to the world that will choke the good seed that the Lord has planted already. I must be alert and not asleep to the schemes of the enemy lest after my children are grown up, I question the Lord asking Him about how these “weeds” showed up when He had planted good seed. Spiritually speaking, these “weeds” could be what is being accessed or viewed on the internet or TV or phones - even that which might be seemingly harmless and not sinful but yet gradually eroding the purity of the home. But more importantly, like monoxide, there could be more invisible and harmless looking “weeds” that an alert spiritual “watchman” should be aware of - attitudes of complaining and grumbling, disputing and arguing, unkind words between husband and wife or between siblings, a scoffing attitude of condescension in jokes towards other family members, a tone of accusation and blame, casual disobedience to parents, delayed obedience, disrespect in responses to parents, rude conversation that puts another sibling down and doesn’t uplift, boastful pride in one’s achievements in school, sport or play, an attitude of self-pity, doubt and unbelief, the love of money and the pursuit of earthly glory and ambition accompanied by earthly heroes, etc. As a “watchman” over my family, I must constantly be on the alert to root out the “weeds” of these sins the moment I notice them.
The Lord has called us to be especially alert as we see the day of His coming drawing near. In the parable of the ten virgins, it says that even the five wise virgins got drowsy and fell asleep when the bridegroom was delaying (Matthew 25:5) and had to trim their lamps only on His arrival (Matthew 25:7). The Lord has a higher calling for us even more so than the five wise virgins. Luke 12:35-37, 42-43 - “Be prepared, and keep your lamps lit. You are also to be like people who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door for him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes;... And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.” Will the Lord find me faithful and sensible with my lamp lit and looking out for the ones who He has asked me to be on watch for - providing them their rations and oil in the form of prayer, encouragement, and discipline so that their own lamps are well-lit?
I can easily deceive myself by saying this doesn’t apply to me as a new covenant Christian as I couldn’t possibly be spiritually drowsy. After all, I am involved weekly in the church and I have an intimate personal relationship with the Lord. But here are a few tests to see whether I am a drowsy watchman when it comes to my own family:
If I enjoy the fellowship with and ministering to the church more than I enjoy the fellowship with and serving and encouraging my spouse and children, then I am indeed a drowsy and distracted watchman over them.
If I value my child’s academic GPA over their “spiritual GPA” - for example, if I am more disturbed by their results in an academic test or exam than I am by their lack of immediate obedience or their unkind words or their boastful pride - then I am a drowsy watchman
Will I be willing to cheer and rejoice louder when I see their obedience, humility in serving at home, kind speech to siblings, and the Lord at work in them than when they score a goal or get a good test score or get in to a good college or when their earthly talents are on display or when they are appreciated by others in the church?
Will I pride myself in their nice-sounding prayers and ignore their complaining and argumentative attitude, unkind words, and disobedience? After all isn’t it the answer to their prayers that I must rejoice in and not the prayer in itself?
But as a watchman, how can I be equipped for this immense responsibility of staying alert at all times? Unlike a physical watchman who trains his eyes (among his five senses) for compromise, the role of the spiritual watchman starts with first listening. Not listening for the invasion or threat, but rather listening to God. Habakkuk 2:1,2 says “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved. Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run.” I must stand on guard in my watchtower of prayer, not to identify faults in my family on my own, but to identify the Lord and hear His voice and to be ready to take His reproval and correction. Any weakness or failure in any member of my family IS MY weakness and failure (2 Corinthians 11:29). What the Lord speaks to me is meant to be recorded in my heart and shared with others (my family members) so that we can together put aside the encumbrance that is tripping us up and run the race together (Hebrews 12:1). And as Habakkuk 2:3 says, I must be willing to wait on the Lord in persistence to hear from Him. In this context of being a watchman that waits on the Lord, it says the famous words in verse 4 - “the righteous shall live by faith”.
Once I have learned to listen for the Lord, He desires to equip me as a watchman to use my mouth and my heart to respond. Isaiah 62:6,7 - “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; And give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” I must see the Lord’s appointment of me as a watchman for my spouse and children as a heavenly calling. That calling mandates that I must not stay silent and I must remind the Lord in prayer until He establishes my family for His praise. Verse 1 of the same chapter says “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning.” Replace “Zion” and “Jerusalem” with your spouse or children’s names. In my case, I want to say to the Lord, “I will not keep silent Lord, I will not rest - for Zachary’s sake, for Kainan’s sake, for Leanna’s sake, for Micah’s sake - until their righteousness goes forth like brightness; not until I see just the dawn of Your light in their life, but persistently until their brightness is like the noonday sun” (Prov 4:18). Like the parable of the man knocking on his friend’s door at midnight on behalf of the hunger of his other friend (Luke 11:5-13), I must be persistent in asking, seeking and knocking on behalf of my family, that they will grow in their intimacy with the Lord, that they will understand the immensity of His love as their Father, that they will be filled and overflowing with His Holy Spirit to be equipped as a disciple and to bless others.
Finally, the most effective watchman is the one who is humble and needy and recognizes their complete hopelessness in their ability to be a loving spouse and watchful parent, yet has complete confidence in God to meet that need. It is the one who realizes their own striving, parenting skills and techniques, earthly love for their spouse, etc are all in vain unless the Lord is the one building their home. Psalms 127:1 Unless the Lord builds a house, they who build it labor in vain; unless the Lord guards a city, the watchman stays awake in vain. The Lord has promised He will keep the needy one secure and will shut out all unrighteousness. Not only this, He has promised that others around me will see it and be blessed and rejoice. Psalms 107:41,42 - But He sets the needy securely on high, away from affliction and makes his families like a flock. The upright see it and are glad; but all unrighteousness shuts its mouth.