We’ve all read the scriptures that refer to the “watchman on the wall.” In several verses in Ezekiel 33, God speaks to Ezekiel about the responsibility of this watchman. The gist of the message is this: the watchman is placed on the wall to be a type of lookout, and to give warning of impending danger. When he sees the enemy approaching, he is to sound the trumpet, or a warning. If the people heed the warning, the Bible says they shall “deliver their soul.” If not, their own blood is upon their head. In other words, it’s their fault, since they didn’t listen to the watchman’s warning. However, if the watchman sees the enemy approach and doesn’t sound the trumpet, the blood of the people is on him.
This story gives great weight to the responsibility of a pastor in how he delivers the Word of God. The temptation in preaching is often to deliver a loving, inspirational and motivational discourse, that leaves the listener feeling pretty good about things and about themselves. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, if that is the message God has for His people from His Word, and there is certainly an ample amount of subjects that motivate, encourage and inspire in God’s Word. But more often than not, the message must contain a warning: against temptation, carnality, worldliness, complacency, laziness, etc. The hour is too late, the enemy’s voice too loud, and his influence too strong not to sound the trumpet! In fact, in his charge to his understudy, Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4). The indication is that for every word of exhortation or encouragement, there will be two words of rebuke, reproval or warning. We must sound the alarm!
But another scripture that comes to mind found in Hebrews 13:17: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” This seems to indicate that the watchman on the wall (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) must give an account one day of the response of each individual to the preaching of the Word. It’s our responsibility as ministers of the gospel to preach the Word, but the saints job to not only be a HEARER, but a DOER of the Word. If it’s literally true that I, as a pastor, must stand before God and give an account for each person under my watch, it got me thinking: If I asked you to write down what you wanted me to say to the Lord about you, what would you write? What COULD you write, based on your life right now? Would you give a joyful account of faithfulness, obedience and submission, or would you be forced to write other things? (After all, we might as well be honest, it’s for the Lord, who already knows, anyway!).
Think about that: what would you write? In fact, a good exercise for you to do (here’s a great homework assignment!) would be to actually do it: Write your own “obituary.” The things we would say about you if you were no longer with us. The things we would read at your funeral. The things that your pastor will have to give an account of to the Lord one day. Will that be a joyful day, or a sorrowful day? Depending on your answer, you may want to adjust the way you are doing some things. Because you must notice: an account of a life that brings grief is UNPROFITABLE for you. And if you know your Bible, you know what happens to the unprofitable servants…enough said.
Here’s the good news: There is still time to turn it around. There is still time to change. There’s still time to live in such a way that your life gives an account worthy of JOY: for you, for your pastor, and for the Lord. And that’s when we will enter into the JOY of the Lord…and here Him say, “Well done.”