Many years ago, I heard a religious pop song. It was not particularly artful or that appealing, but one line was repeated over and over, and it stuck in my mind. Even today, I sometimes think of that song and its reiterated question. It was a simple one: “Are you ready…?”
In Matthew 24:44, Jesus gave all of His disciples this sobering warning: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Christ referred to our need to be ready at all times–because nobody knows the day of his death. When we die, we will be awakened within the next second of our consciousness. For those, who die in Christ, it is as if they were immediately with Christ (Philippians 1:23)–even though, in reality, years may pass, before they hear the voice of the Son of Man calling them out of their graves (John 5:28-29). Christ’s warning to be ready is an ongoing and continuing one: “He is coming” to His disciples at an unexpected hour, as Matthew 24:44 says.
The question is, Are we ready NOW–TODAY–for His Coming? Or are we delaying and waiting for tomorrow to become serious or make necessary amends? Consider this: Tomorrow may never come for you. You may DIE tonight! Think of the rich man who was anxious to lay up many goods for many years, but God said to him: “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you… So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21). James gives us a similar warning: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:13-14).
We need to make sure that we are ready “today.” That we obey God’s Word today! That we are ready TODAY to give a defense to everyone who asks us about our faith (compare 1 Peter 3:15). At the same time, as Ecclesiastes 5:1 says in the Authorized Version, we must be attentive in Church services and “READY to hear” and to listen to the message, “with a view of obedience” (Ryrie Study Bible), and we must apply the words of instruction and correction to ourselves.
It is important that we reject TODAY any rebellion and unbelief. Rather than delaying, Hebrews 3:7, 13 admonishes us: “TODAY, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion… exhort one another DAILY, while it is called, ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin…” (compare Hebrews 4:7; Psalm 95:7).
When God speaks to us today, we must respond immediately. Exodus 34:11 tells us: “Observe what I command you THIS DAY.” Shortly before his death, Joshua challenged the people of Israel: “… choose for yourselves THIS DAY whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). God tells us that He is READY to judge us (1 Peter 4:5)–but are WE ready for His judgment? We might think so, but Jesus Christ reminded us that even though our spirit might be ready, the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38).
Christ told the church in Sardis to be “watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are READY to DIE” (Revelation 3:2). This is not the kind of readiness we want to have! He continued: “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you” (Revelation 3:3).
Nobody knows the day of his death. Today is the time for change. Today is the time to embrace and uphold the right and reject the wrong.
When we give our word, let us not delay to keep it. Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 tells us: “When you make a vow [a promise] to God [or another person], do not delay to pay it… Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?”
When we have opportunity to do good, let us not delay to do it. Proverbs 3:28 tells us: “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,’ When you have it with you.” Paul admonished the wealthy to be “rich in good works, READY to give, willing to share… that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:18-19).
How often have we missed today’s opportunities to do good to others–thinking that we can do it tomorrow–or the day after that? Let’s not wait. Let’s give flowers to the living, as we have opportunity. Let’s be “READY for every good work” (Titus 3:1; compare Galatians 6:10).
Are you ready…? An old Latin proverb says, “Carpe diem.” It means, “Seize the day!” Make the most of it. Take advantage of the moment. Don’t delay. Don’t wait for tomorrow–because your tomorrow may never come.