Work and Watching
Mark 13:34-36
For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work…


1. Work is the common duty of all in Christ's house. The calm stars are in ceaseless motion, and every leaf is a world, with its busy inhabitants and the sap coursing through its veins as the life blood through our own. It would be strange then if the Christian Church, which was intended to be the beating heart to all this world's activity, were exempted from a law so universal. Such a thing would be against our highest nature. Work is not only a duty, but a blessing. Every right deed is a step upward. Instead of praying that God would grant us less work, our request should be that he would give us a greater heart and growing strength to meet all its claims.

2. This work is varied to different individuals. In one respect there is something common in the work of all, as there is a common salvation — to believe in Christ and to grow in grace; but even here there may be a variety in the form. There is a different colour of beauty in different stones that are all of them precious. One man may be burnishing to the sparkle of the diamond, while another is deepening to the glow of the ruby; and each is equally useful and necessary. The cornerstone and the cope stone have both their due place in the palace house of Christ. To see how this may be, is to perceive that an end can be put to all jealousies and heart burnings, and may help us even now to take our position calmly and unenviously, working in our department, assured that our labour will be found to contribute to the full proportion of the whole.

3. Each individual has means for ascertaining his own work. Not a special revelation, or an irresistible impression. Still Christ does guide men into their sphere of work by the finger of His providence and by the enlightenment of His Word in the hand of His Spirit. If it be thought it would be simpler and more satisfactory to have our place directly pointed out to us, let us remember the trouble and care necessary to ascertain it are part of our training.There are these rules to guide us.

1. Our aptitudes.

2. Our opportunities.

3. The opinion of our fellow men when fairly expressed.

II. THE WATCH OF THE PORTER. The porter is that one of the servants whose station is at the door to look out for those who approach, and open to them if they have right to enter. It would be wrong, however, to suppose that the body of the servants are exempted from watching, while one takes the duty for them (ver. 37). In saying the workmen are many and the watchman one, our Lord indicated that, while the mode of labour in the house may vary, the duty of watchfulness is common to all who are in it. The porter must stand at the door of every heart, while that heart pursues its work. What, then, is this watching? It is to do all our work with the thought of Christ's eye measuring it, as of a friend who is ever present to our soul, gone from us in outward form, sure to return, and meanwhile near in spirit; to subject our plans and acts to His approval, asking ourselves at every step how this would please Him, shrinking from what would cloud His face, rejoicing with great joy in all that would meet His smile. This is a more difficult task than to have our hands busy with the work of the house. But, if attended to, it will bring its proportionate benefit.

1. It will keep us wakeful.

2. It will preserve purity.

3. It will maintain the soul in calmness.

4. It will rise increasingly to the fervour of prayer — that prayer which is the strength of the soul and the life of all work.


1. Work cannot be rightly performed without watching; for then it would be

(1)  blind and without a purpose;

(2)  discouraging and tedious;

(3)  formal and dead.

2. Watching will not suffice without work; or it would be

(1)  solitary;

(2)  subject to many temptations, such as empty speculations, vanity, pride;

(3)  unready for Christ.The solitary watcher can have no works of faith nor labours of love to present, no saved souls to offer for the Redeemer's crown, and no crown of righteousness to receive from Him. He is saved, but alone, as on a board or a broken piece of the ship; not as they who have many voices of blessing around, and many welcomes before, and to whom an entrance is ministered abundantly into the kingdom of heaven. Happy is the man who can combine these two duties in perfect harmony — who has Stephen's life of labour and Stephen's vision in the end. In every soul there should be the sisters of Bethany, active effort and quiet thought, and both agreeing in mutual love and help.

(John Ker, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

WEB: "It is like a man, traveling to another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, and to each one his work, and also commanded the doorkeeper to keep watch.

Watching for the Master
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