Watch Out!

3 03 2011

If someone says,”Watch out!” chances are you are about to have something fall on you or hit you, or you are about to run into something or stand up and conk your head; something is in your way or you are in the way of something and someone else noticed it before you did. Anyway, it is a pretty good warning.

When I read those words this morning (Acts 20:31) I thought about that warning and how Paul was so vigilant to warn those he served. Now I have his words written down, calling across the centuries to me: watch out! His warning in this case had to do with misguided thinking misleading others and that is a relevant warning, all the more today.

Am I watching out? How tuned in am I, how open are my ears and eyes and heart to heed the warnings of people around me, of the Scripture before me, of the Holy Spirit within me? Really, most of the time I just do what I do, say what I say, think what I think move as I choose to move. Most of  the time I think I am quite correct but…watch out.

I wish I could have a printout of all the decisions (big and small) that I have made in the last six months so that I could review: was I watching out? What about the words that I wrote or thought or said: was I watching out? What about the things I was sour/disgruntled about: was I watching out?

I think Paul is saying that there ought to be a “catch” in us, a final, final check for Jesus to be able to say, “watch out!” There ought to be a system we choose to honor, a system of checks and balances.

The phrase “checks and balances” is interesting. A couple of definitions:

  • The term “checks and balances” refers to a system of quality control that ensures things (or people) stay within the prescribed limits and guidelines (wikianswers)

or

  • Each branch of government has some control over the other two branches, so that no single branch of government becomes too powerful (wikianswers)
While these are examples of checks and balances in the business or political world, it quite closely describes one of the roles of the Holy Spirit in my life. While I have the free will to do exactly as I please, when I invite Jesus to lead me I am inviting Him to tell me to “watch out” and hopefully I am smart enough to listen most of the time.

I am not, actually, smart enough. Quite often He has to tell me three times to watch out. Many times I only listen on the back end of something: “I was telling you to watch out.”

The fact is, even if Jesus stood before me, for some reason human beings have a tendency to be so sinful and careless. In Acts, Paul’s friends leaned in and listened and he said some strong words following the “watch out.” He said that even some of you will distort the truth. Jesus said something similar around the table at His last supper: someone sitting at this table will betray me.

So it isn’t simple. It isn’t a matter of saying I am submitted to Christ. It isn’t a matter of having friends who agree with me. It isn’t a matter of feeling peace about something. There is more to it or there wouldn’t be so many people not watching out. This in itself should be enough to warn me: don’t be overconfident. As Proverbs 3:6 says, “In ALL your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”

I pray that I will more often than not, hear the voice of Jesus. Lord, you know my blinders, I invite you to be in my face and sound that warning because as much as I may play tug-of-war with what I want…ultimately I really do want what you want.


So help me to watch it.


— Teresa Klassen
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