1 Thessalonians 5:6
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
A king had an unwise and reckless son, so reckless that when all entreaty and rebuke proved in vain, he condemned him to death. Still he was allowed three months' respite, in which he was to prepare himself for death. After this had flown, the father called him again into his presence. But what a change in the appearance of the son! His figure was abject, and his countenance bore the traces of an entire inward transformation. "How comes it now," says the king to him, "that thou, my son, appearest before me in so different a character?" "Ah, my father and king," replied he, "how should I not be changed, having death for three months constantly before my eyes?" "Well," responded the father, "since thou hast so earnestly considered the matter and become of a different mind, thy punishment is remitted; yet see that thou keep within thee forever this new feeling!" "That is too hard for me; how could I, amid the manifold enticements of my newly granted life, possibly be able to stand?" Then the king ordered a shell to be handed to his son, which was filled up to the brim with oil, and said to him, "Take this and carry it through all the streets of the city. But two men with drawn swords are to follow immediately behind thee on foot. If thou spillest only one drop of the oil, in the same moment thy head is to roll off into the street." The son obeyed. With slow, but sure, steps he traversed the streets of the great capital, ever holding the full shell in his hands, followed by the two armed servants, who were ready at any moment to decapitate him. But, happily, without having spilled even a drop of the oil, the young man returned to his father's palace. "Tell me, my son," said he, "what hast thou seen in thy wandering through the city?" "Nothing, my father, nothing at all have I seen." "And why not, since, too, this is our yearly market day? Tell me what kind of shops, wares, people, animals, etc., fell under thy notice?" "Indeed, sire, I have seen nothing whatever on the entire route, for my eyes were ceaselessly directed toward the oil in the shell that it might remain in the right position and not run over. And how should I not have been thus watchful, when the executioners were close behind, and my life hung upon the point of their swords." Then said the king, "Now keep well in mind what thou hast been forced to learn in this hour. As the shell of oil, so bear thy soul always in thy hands; direct thy thoughts away from the distractions of sense and the things of earth in which they are so easily lost, towards the eternal which alone has worth, and ever reflect that death's executioners follow at thy heels, and so thou wilt not so easily forget what is needful to thy soul, and so needful to keep thee from the old disorderly life that must necessarily lead to perdition." And the son hearkened, and lived happily.
(A Tamil Parable.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.