The Day is at Hand
There are some days in which it seems that Heaven is so far away. The darkness of this world surrounds us and seeks to choke out our faith in God, and our love for one another. It can feel much like the classic dream sequence in which one is being chased by some sort of monstrous creature, and the faster you flee the farther away the door/exit/light seems to be.
In Romans 13 Paul gives the Christians there some encouraging words. In the latter part of v.12, he says “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us that the longer that we live on this earth, this place of cruelty and loss and death, that we are nearer to salvation now than when we first believed. “Well, that’s obvious, I’m clearly closer to my death (whenever that is) now than when I first obeyed the Gospel. What is so great or helpful about that?”
This statement from Paul gives us both encouragement and motivation. We are encouraged by this statement because no matter what happens today, whether it be great happiness or tragic sadness or just another day-of-the-week, no matter what it is, you are another day closer to your reward, if you are faithfully following in the footsteps of Jesus. You are closer right now to your reward than you were 10 minutes ago. This passage refocuses us on what is important, which is the reward of heaven and our response to the call of the Gospel. That is brought into clearer focus in the next sentence, found in v.12: “The night is far gone, the day is at hand.” Whether the nighttime of your time spent on this planet is 30 minutes or 30 years long, that time of your life is “far gone”. The KJV here says “The night is far spent”. Fellow Christians, the struggle is almost over. One can imagine a soldier in wartime, buried deep in a foxhole in the early morning hours, eyes straining for any sign of the sunrise. The image is appropriate, as we as Christians are often described as being in war, and needing to bear the arms or armor of our warfare! “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Eph. 6:13)
However, this passage also gives us motivation on an all-new level. Notice the 2nd half of v.12 in Romans 13: “let us therefore…” Because of this nearness of the daylight of our heavenly reward, because we understand that our time on earth is short and the struggle will be over soon, we have something to do! “Let us therefore cast of the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” If the Day is at hand, brothers and sisters, then we need to lay down the works and thoughts of the Night! We cannot continue to believe and act as if the Night will last for a while! And yet, so many among us continue to practice those things which are not acceptable to God. If one is willing to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14), then they will be prepared for the coming Dawn. If not, the Day will come, regardless of whether one is prepared for it or not! “But God said to him, ‘Fool, this night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” (Luke 12:18) The passage in Romans 13 continues with further instructions to the brethren there in v.13: “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy”.
I encourage all of my brethren to take comfort, as well as warning, after reading the passages we have discussed above. Keep in mind what happened to the one-talent man in Matthew 25. His master did eventually return. His master rewarded those who worked and received profit with their entrusted goods. What did he do to the one-talent man?