0241 The Stewardship of Service
Encounter Radio Outline #0241
Air date: 10/13/02
The Stewardship of Service
by Dr. Stephen F. Olford
We have to reflect the mind of Christ with a servitude of lovingness in three areas of church life. Having reviewed the membership of the church (0420), we now turn to:
B. The Servitude of Lovingness in the Stewardship of the Church (vv. 6-8)
There are seven classifications of stewardship which operate within the local church. The specific number in this passage suggests perfect harmony. Every believer has a gift, while at the same time no Christian has all the gifts (v. 6). Each gift is defined, and then its use is qualified, or regulated.
1. There is the Stewardship of Prophesying (v. 6)
Prophecy is not primarily prediction, but the inspired delivery of warning, exhortation, instruction, judging, and making manifest the secrets of the heart. Every servant of the Lord who is called to preach the truth is virtually a prophet of the Most High God. This gift builds up, stirs up, and cheers up the church.
Only as a preacher has the anointing of the Spirit and the gift of faith can he understand eternal truth, and under this sense of divine constraint be able to declare it. But alongside of this is the restraint of man. Preachers are not to be carried away by their own impulses. They are to retain reason and composure and speak with a sense of responsibility and accountability (1 Cor. 14:29-33).
2. There is the Stewardship of Serving (v. 7)
By definition, this gift of ministry is service in the business and administrative aspects of the life of the church. Whether it is the distribution of money and food, or the declaration of the Word of life, the work is done by those who are designated as the servants of the church.
In the regulation of this gift we see that a servant of the church has to be a committed (Acts 6:1, 3), consistent (Acts 6:3), consecrated (Acts 6:3), and competent Christian (Acts 6:3).
3. There is the Stewardship of Teaching (v. 7)
By definition, this gift is the ability to expound and interpret the Word of God. It is distinguished from the office of the prophet in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11. The teacher’s gift has to do with his ability to communicate truth already known in an orderly and systematic manner.
Teaching calls for serious reading, research and reflection (see 1 Tim. 4:13-16). The task of a teacher is to reproduce his ministry in others, and so perpetuate a succession of teachers (2 Tim. 2:1-12).
4. There is the Stewardship of Exhorting (v. 8)
By definition, exhortation is the gift of challenge and encouragement. It is directed primarily to the heart and to the will (1 Tim. 4:13; 6:2). Evangelists, for the most part, fall into this category. Their task is to stir up the souls of men to decision and activity.
There is the idea of an assignment as well as an engagement in the area of soul-winning (2 Tim. 4:5). Evangelism calls for the honesty, constancy and agony of spiritual concern for the souls of men.
5. There is the Stewardship of Giving (v. 8)
This is the stewardship of tithes and offerings. Paul is speaking of the spirit of liberality and generosity which should characterize all believers.
In other passages Paul lays down the regulation of the gift, for he speaks of spontaneous giving (2 Cor. 9:7), sacrificial giving (2 Cor. 9:6), and systematic giving (2 Cor. 16:2).
6. There is the Stewardship of Ruling (v. 8)
By definition, this is the gift of leadership. It can include organizers, superintendents or directors of Christian work. The same word is employed in relation to family life (1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 3:4) and also to the office of the elder (1 Tim. 5:17). Undoubtedly it is this latter sense that Paul uses here.
Leadership must be performed with diligence. It demands a spiritual maturity in relation to Christian experience (1 Tim. 3:6), a spiritual ability in relation to Christian edification (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:9), and a spiritual consistency in relation to Christian example (1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Pet. 5:3). An elder is to be a good leader (1 Tim. 3:1), a good husband (1 Tim. 3;2, 5), and a good witness (1 Tim. 3:7).
7. There is the Stewardship of Visiting (v. 8)
By definition, this is the gift of pastoral visitation. This ministry embraces the care of the sick, the poor, the afflicted and the sorrowing.
Pastoral visitation should be carried out with cheerfulness, which only comes through the enabling of the Holy Spirit. It reaches beyond the pulpit and the counseling room to the home or hospital where otherwise inaccessible people become the objects of that personal touch.
Conclusion: Thus we have considered the servitude of lovingness in the stewardship of the church. No one can be a loving slave of Jesus Christ without being a servant of the church, and no one can be a member of a local church without being gifted in one or more of these distinctive ministries.
Paul has dealt with the servitude of lovingness in the membership and stewardship of the church, and now concludes with . . . (continued in 0242)
Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
P.O. Box 757800 Memphis, TN 38175-7800
Phone: (901) 757-7977 or (800) 843-2241 Fax: (901) 757-1372
Comments? Send mail to: OMI@olford.org