STAND UP AND BE A WATCHMAN
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
It is an age-old question. When we see evil, how should we respond? Should we turn aside and avoid a confrontation? How can we, when evil and sinful acts leave behind a trail of damaged victims, destroying the fabric of justice in society and perverting innocence?
We are to be watchmen. God told Ezekiel, “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me” (Ez. 3:17). God appointed Ezekiel to take a stand, call out evil, resist it, and warn the people of danger. A “watchman” was really just a prophet: “Ephraim was a watchman with my God, a prophet” (Hos. 9:8a). Prophets were to speak the word of God where it was needed and stand in the gaps created by evil people trying to break down the society’s protections for the innocent to make them their prey. “The people of the land have practiced oppression...and they have wronged the poor and needy...I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it” (Ez. 22:29-30a).
This principle extends to Christians. In Ephesians, Paul tells Believers to take a stand in the world, equipped with the whole armor of God against the schemes of the devil. Some may say that this is just in your personal life, but we see from the Second Commandment that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. And if we love our neighbors, we should stand firm against the schemes of the wicked which affect people other than ourselves, also.
Does this just refer to the big things of life? No, we need to stand up in the little things—especially the little things. After all, a flood is composed of many tiny drops of water (nothing of concern in themselves), but when added one on top another, they became so strong a force that they can drown you. The devil is always trying to compromise us in small ways, which we may not see as serious or threatening, but which in his long-con, add up to a tsunami that could sweep us, our neighbors, and ultimately our society away. The “little” sins, compromises, moral weakness, and indifference we succumb to in our lives weave into the devil’s larger web of harm in society. Each failure to stand up to evil results in a victory for the devil. To do nothing when you see the devil laying snares for his prey is to be complicit with him, because your inaction is an expression of apathy, rather than love towards those he is harming in the world. There is no neutrality—failure to stand up is failing to love our neighbor.
Jesus drove this home when He spoke of the final judgement, saying that the righteous had stood up for Him when He was vulnerable and defenseless, when He had been made prey by the wicked. But the righteous didn’t remember helping Him, so Jesus explained that when “you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40b). This means that every time we stand up for someone in a desperate or vulnerable situation, we stand up for Christ. This answered the age old question, “am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9b) Absolutely! “If the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand” (Ez. 33:6). If you don’t take responsibility to look out for your neighbor, where is the love in that? At the same time, each person is responsible for their own decisions, for anyone who “does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head” (Ez. 33:4).
May we watch out for ourselves and our brothers, standing up to the little “evils” in our lives and in the world, resisting the schemes of the devil. Even so, Amen.