Why Polish Brass on a Sinking Ship?

Hello again brothers and sisters in the Lord. I hope you are fairing this storm with dignity and grace.  We are almost home!  This being the case, the question has risen recently as to the what we are to be doing in these last days and why are we to be doing it, knowing the Lord’s return is imminently close.  I defer to the very words of the Christ regarding this matter.

Jesus said, “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas (about 3 months’ salary), and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’ 15 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ 19 Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’ 20 “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. 21 For I feared you, because you are an austere(severe) man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ 25 (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) 26 ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 27 But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’ ”                           – Luke 19:12-27

  • While this passage is a sermon in of itself, I will briefly comment and apply the specific principles to our blog topic for today.  The phrase, ‘do business till I come’ is translated in the KJV as ‘occupy.’  The Master has instructed all of us to continue to work and serve Him in the capacity He has called us to do so; both for our families and for the local church we are serving in. 

The Lord further states that each of us will give an account of our faithfulness to the Lord at the Bema Seat Judgment which occurs immediately after the Rapture.  The Bema judgment is reserved for those who love the Lord and will, at that time, be rewarded for their faithfulness to the Master while in this life.  Suffice it to say, some will receive more than others, some will lose more than others, but all of us will be overjoyed at what the Lord has prepared for us, who, by the way, do not deserve jack squat!   It is only by His grace that we receive anything from the Lord, and yet He loves us and will bless us accordingly, each to our own works.

This being said, ‘doing business’ till the Lord returns or ‘occupying’ is all about polishing brass on a sinking ship. I should like to give my top ten reasons we are to be polishing brass on this sinking ship.

1. The ship is sinking, and we cannot save it.  We can, however, save the people aboard if they are willing.   This is our foremost responsibility in our ‘brass polishing, doing business, or occupying’ status. I was talking to a pastor friend of mine the other day and he had to get off the phone because the rain gutter man was at his door to fix his gutters.  This pastor was ‘occupying.’ Doing business with others improves our witness.

2.  The brass needs to be polished because when the ship finally does go down, it cannot be polished anymore. We all know that the polished status of brass on any ship defines its beauty and value, even as it sinks. 

Jesus said it this way,  “I (We) must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”                                                                          – John 9:4,5

  • Jesus is telling us that while it is day, the brass must be polished, because when night comes, we will not be able to polish the brass anymore.  So, if you have unpolished brass, you had better get to polishing it, because the night is coming.  The ‘night’ is representative of God’s judgment. Our goal is to be a witness to others as we do business with them and polish our brass before the night comes.

3. The tendency for too many Christians is to not want to polish the brass because they know that the Lord’s return is very near, and they are weary of working and waiting for Him.  They are becoming lazy in their service because life is hard and polishing brass is less of a priority because the ship is sinking anyway.

Jesus said it this way, “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.”                             – Matthew 25:26,27

  • The inference here is that people who no longer desire to polish brass are disobeying the Lord’s command to ‘occupy till He returns.’  Jesus referred to these types as ‘wicked and lazy servants’ which means that they are still servants, they are just not acting right in God’s sight.  We must be willing to continue polishing the brass with a loving attitude and a mindset that polished brass is very important.

4. I am becoming depressed and tired in my brass polishing routine.  Some feel that they just want to stop polishing brass and go home.  The reality is that until the Master returns for us and takes us home, we must be faithful to polish all the brass we can find on this sinking ship.  Polishing brass is a high priority.

The Apostle Paul said it this way, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”      – Galatians 6:9,10

  • We all get tired of polishing brass at times, this is why we need to take breaks and rest, do our devotions, go to church, worship the Lord, pray, be in healthy fellowship with other believers, and encourage each other in our last days brass polishing mandate. 
  • Remember: When we ‘do good,’ we polish brass best.

5. If I do not polish the brass, what will I do instead?  The Master has commissioned us to polish the brass because we are the brass polishers (the light) of the world.  If we do not polish the brass, who will?  The answer is nobody.  While it may not make sense to polish brass on a sinking ship, everyone on board your section of the ship will appreciate how nice the brass looks, especially your immediate family.  How you polish brass reflects your love for the Lord and your love for your family.

  • If I can get a bit personal and a little bit gross.  Every time I use the restroom, I make sure that the bowl is clean of any ‘residue’ of use.  The reason I do this is twofold. 1. My wife loves it when there is no evidence that I used the restroom. 2. My dogs love a fresh bowl when it comes time for a drink.  In a way, cleaning the toilet is a lot like polishing brass; even though Jesus is coming soon, we need to keep our toilets clean because, even though the Lord is near, it makes the wife, and dogs, happy.

6. Our flesh nature does not want to polish brass, especially when we see that the ship is sinking. We must polish the brass anyway, mainly because it is what the Master has commanded of us, especially as it pertains to the brass in the house of the Lord.

Nehemiah said it this way, “For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the priests who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our God.”                – Nehemiah 10:39

  • God’s house, above all, must NOT be neglected, especially in this ‘post-pandemic’ season. 

If you have neglected God’s house and made it less of a priority, you must repent, reset your priority as it relates of the house of the Lord, and fly right.  This is clearly a litmus test of your faith and an expression of your appreciation (or lack) of God’s house and for His people.  Thank you all for of you who continue to support your local church in your tithes, offerings, and faithful service to the Lord.

7. Who cares if the brass if polished on a sinking ship?  God does!  His command for us to be faithful to our task and calling supersedes anything that we can do with our life up to the point of His return.  Many rich people have stocked their garages full of fancy stuff and think they are successful because of their material fortunes.  What they should be doing is using their resources to polish brass!  Their priority is not God’s priority, and as a result, there is a lot of brass in their life that was never quite polished enough.

Listen up! We must not define our success in life by the stuff we acquire, but by the amount of brass that we polish for the Lord.  In the end, only a record of the brass you polished for the Lord will be remembered, not all of the stuff you acquired on this temporary side of the veil.

Jesus said it this way, “And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”                                                                                                            – Luke 12:15

  • When the ship finally does go down, all those things, the stuff, the abundance of possessions, the money and other possessions we acquired are also going down with the ship.  We must not attach ourselves to it because in the end, it really does not matter.  Life is way too short to bank on things that will sift through your hands like dry sand on a windy beach.

This reminds me of the true story of a man who loved to ride his motorcycle all over the country.  When he died, his body was preserved via taxidermy and it was mounted on his motorcycle with all his gear, housed in a plexy glass coffin and lowered into the grave like it really mattered.  It was as creepy as it was sad, this man did not know the Lord.  His life consisted of nothingness and not enough of what really mattered, polishing brass!

8. Polishing brass is about life priorities and the philosophy of the brass polisher.  If we do not think that polishing brass is important, we will not want to do it or invest in others who polish brass.  In the end, we will all be judged by the amount of brass that we polished in this life and our attitude we had while polishing it. 

This is part of being ‘the salt of the earth and the light of the world.’ When we’re gone, the world is really going to miss us and all that we represented when we were here.  Right now, the world does not like us or appreciate our righteous ways, but that will change the moment we are all gone.  Suffice it to say, you do not really appreciate something or someone until they are gone.

9. Brass polishers are the real engines that run the economy.  Our money works because of the faith that is pledged to it.  The motto ‘In God We Trust’ that is printed on our money is a statement of faith (trust) in God. If we lose our trust in God, we will lose our economic system.  Even the liberals know this, which is why nobody has attempted to remove those four fateful words from our currency…yet

10. In heaven, all of the brass is already polished.  It will always be polished, and it will never have to be polished, throughout eternity.  Our brass polishing days will be over when we are finally home with the Lord in the kingdom of heaven.  Until that glorious day, we must be faithful to the Lord and polish all the brass that He brings to us.

If the brass in heaven is polished, then the brass on earth must reflect the brass in heaven as best we can, so that the kingdom of God will be manifest on the earth by, among other things, polished brass. When people ask, ‘why polish brass on a sinking ship?’ Tell them, because it is not about the sinking ship, it is about the brass and its need to be polished.


Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Northwest Missouri.  He lives with his wife of 32-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren).  Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate.  He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry. 

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