“Be on the alert, be prepared and ready, for you do not know the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come.” (Matthew 25:13)
When I go to the grocery store, I’m prepared. I look up recipes. I check to see if I’m out of any needed ingredients. I make a menu for the week, including where to find the recipes, which sides go with a meal, and the number of calories per serving. Finally, I make a list of everything I need to buy and how much of it I need.
Some people may say I’m overly prepared. Maybe so, but I never get home and realize I forgot tomatoes for the salad or ginger for the stir fry. And I never come home with an impulse-purchased cheesecake. (Well, hardly ever!)
Preparation makes a huge difference. It’s especially huge to be prepared for Jesus’s return. If we skimp on preparation for grocery shopping, it’s no big deal. But if we’re not prepared when Jesus comes, nothing else we’ve done our entire life matters.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:11-22, Paul gives believers a list of what it looks like to be prepared. How should we live while we watch for his return? What should we be doing? Here are eight traits to cultivate while we await his coming:
- Connection. “Encourage one another and build one another up…” (verse 11). Don’t be a lone Christian. Stay connected to believers. And don’t tear others down; build others up.
- Ministry. “…Take tender care of those who are weak…” (verse 14). Find a way to serve others. View your day-to-day living through eyes of ministry.
- Love. “…Always try to do good to each other and to all people” (verse 15). We are called to love, forgive, extend grace, and be kind to everyone, always.
- Joy. “Always be joyful” (verse 16). Cultivate continuous joy. God’s supernatural joy makes us strong and prepared.
- Prayer. “Never stop praying” (verse 17). Short, spontaneous prayers throughout the day are good. Long, travailing prayers at home are good. Prayer at church is good. Our lives should be filled with prayer.
- Gratitude. “Be thankful in all circumstances…” (verse 18). Gratitude changes our attitude. Since we know our lives are held in God’s hands, we can be thankful in any situation.
- Discernment. “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies” (verse 19). There is a very real spiritual realm. Ask God for revelation, and for spiritual eyes and ears that see and hear the spiritual realm.
- Wisdom. “Test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil” (verses 21-22). Anybody can be wise because God promises to give wisdom to anyone who asks. Wisdom comes from above—just ask for it.
How do you implement these ingredients into your life? First, be intentional. Deliberately seek God for each of these ingredients. God loves to give good gifts to his children. This is a request he will honor. Second, be proactive. Think of one step you can take to move forward in one of these areas. For example, what can you do to be more grateful? Or, how can you improve your prayer life?
Jesus is coming back—that is an unassailable fact. And nothing is more important than being ready when he gets here. Be intentional. Be proactive. Be prepared.
Dear Jesus, I want to be ready when you come back to earth. Help me obey the instructions you gave us about being prepared for your return. Help me take one step today that prepares me for your coming. Let my life point others to your love and your grace. In Jesus’s name, amen.