Called by a New Name - STEWARDS
Scripture Portion: 1 Peter 4: 1-11
God calls us His servants, but He also calls us His stewards. There must therefore be a distinction between a servant and a steward. A servant is one who serves (Romans 1:9), or a worker (Matthew 9:37). A steward is a servant but in the word ‘steward’ there is the added idea of responsibility. God has entrusted certain things to us and we are responsible to Him to use them properly. Eliezer was the steward of Abraham’s household (Genesis 15:2, AV); Abraham had placed all his household affairs in Eliezer’s hands, and Eliezer was accountable to his master, Abraham. Compare also Genesis 43:19. Look up and read also Luke 19:12-13. These ten servants were stewards and their job was to administer and dispense their master’s goods and to ‘trade’ the money he had given to them. This raises the question: What has God entrusted to us that we are to administer and dispense, and for which He will hold us responsible?
1. Our whole Life. What an amazing gift this is that God has given to us! Think of our bodies, with minds to think, hearts to love, wills to choose! Do we recognize the responsibility of stewardship with regard to our lives, our bodies?
2. Our Influence. God has given this to all of us and He holds us responsible as to how we use it. See Romans 14:7. We influence others by the way we live, the way we talk and how we react in different circumstances. How are we influencing others? Do we recognize that in our daily living we are the Lord’s stewards?
3. Our Money and our Possessions. Of course, we should not say ‘our’ at all, for everything we have is God’s – we are only stewards. Do you have a bank balance and investments? You are only a steward of these things. Do you own a house? Do you have a car? Do you own a shop or a business? You are only a steward because you are managing these things for Him.
4. Our Children. Those who are parents have been entrusted with the gift of children. Do we recognize the responsibility of stewardship in the home?
5. Our Time. Think how much time we have! How are we using it? Are we using it in the light of eternity, or are we wasting time? Ephesians 5:16 literally reads, “buying up the opportunities”!
6. Special Talents and Gifts. God has endowed all of us with these, and they are a trust from Him. Perhaps it is a gift of speech or of music; perhaps we have a home we can use for hospitality to God’s servants. Do we recognize that we are stewards of these talents that God has entrusted to us?
7. The Gospel of the Grace of God. Look up 1 Corinthians 4:1 and compare 1 Thessalonians 2:4. These verses mean that we have a responsibility to live the Gospel, to preach it, and to send it out to the ends of the earth.
Notice the following scriptures which refer to this matter of stewardship:
1. Every Christian is a steward. Look up these references and compare them – Luke 19:13; I Corinthians 12:7 and 11; Ephesians 4:7; I Peter 4:10. If we are Christians then we are stewards and we are accountable to God.
2. We may be good stewards or bad stewards. Notice in 1 Peter 4:10: “…administering God’s grace in its various forms”. There are two kinds of Christians - spiritual and worldly (1 Corinthians 3:1-4); two kinds of servants – faithful and unfaithful (Luke 16:10); two kinds of saints – vessels which are honourable and those which are dishonourable (2 Timothy 2:20-21); and two kinds of stewards – good and bad! Which are you?
3.The period in which we are to exercise our stewardship is until the Lord comes. Look up Luke 19:13: “…until I come back…”, and compare 1 Peter 4:7 and 10, where Peter says, “The end of all things is near…”, therefore faithfully administer God’s grace. See John 9:4 and 1 Corinthians 7:29.
4. We must exercise our stewardship in the light of the coming of Christ and of the Judgment Seat of Christ. Compare Luke 19:15 with Romans 14:12 and 1 Corinthians 3:9-15. Every Christian will be rewarded or suffer loss according to whether he has been a good or a bad steward. If we lived in the light of this fact, how different our giving would be! How much more zealously we would serve the Lord if we remembered that we shall have to give an account before Him of the way we have served! – and how differently we would view missionary work!
5. The special characteristic of the steward’s work is faithfulness. This is made clear in 1 Corinthians 4:2 – compare Matthew 25:21. God will not reward us on the ground of our success, but of our faithfulness. We need to ask ourselves the question that God will ask on that day – ‘Have you been faithful in discharging your responsibility towards Me?’
6. The special mark of the steward’s life and character is blamelessness. Study Titus 1:7-9. God does not expect us or provide for us to be perfect or without fault in this life, but He requires us to be blameless. There is all the difference between being blameless and being faultless; thank God that, by His grace, we may and should live blamelessly!
7. Faithfulness in our stewardship here qualifies us for greater responsibilities in service in the life to come. Look up Luke 19:16-17. When He comes again “and so we will be with the Lord for ever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17), our service will not end, it will just be the beginning. All our service here is a preparation for our service there (Revelation 22:3). May God make us good stewards!