Not long we concluded a topical study in our adult class entitled, “Give Account of Your Stewardship.” It was an excellent study. This morning we would like to share with you some of the things we learned from the class as well as some areas that weren’t necessarily covered. Being a Steward and having proper stewardship is important for each one of us. The meaning of the word “steward” is “a trustworthy servant to whom the master has delegated responsibility in helping to promote his affairs.” With this definition in mind we want to examine three general areas to which we are accountable to give our stewardship. These areas are: “Where There Is Stewardship”; “The Stewardship God Has Entrusted To Us”; and “What Stewardship Involves.”
First we’ll take a look at “Where There Is Stewardship.” When it comes down to it, “Where there is stewardship, there is also ownership.” When it comes to our relationship to God we must recognize that He owns us, we are God’s. Listen to what the apostle says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.” One big challenge for man is remembering that we were created by God. We know this from Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." From this verse let’s notice something. Not only did God create us, He placed us as stewards over His creation, “let them have dominon over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping things that creeps on the earth.” This show that in God’s creation of us, He fully intended for us to work and maintain stewardship over all that He has provided for us. Simply in creation we are God’s that includes all mankind, those who choose to follow Him and His Will and those Who do not. However, Those who choose to obey the Will of God and have obeyed God’s plan of Salvation give themselves willingly back to God and therefore they become God’s by right of redemption through Christ as we learn from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Let’s not forget what it means to believe on Jesus, how we obtain that redemption, that is as the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Because of sin, God has redeemed us through His Son. This reminds us, that God has nothing to do with sin. He takes no part of it. And therefore, in order for Him to have His creation back He redeemed, or paid the price of sin with His only begotten Son. He redeems us, or purchases us with the blood. However, we must willingly return to Him in obedience. We want Him to own us, to be our master. Who better to serve than the one who provides for us providentially as we read in Acts 14:17, "Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." It in this verse we see God’s stewardship towards us in that He provides all things for us. The apostle Paul points this out to the Athenians when he says in Acts 17:25 and Acts 17:28, “"Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things…."for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'” Once again we are given understanding of God’s ownership of us for he gave us life and in him we live, for without him we would have nothing. Consider what David says concerning God in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.” Notice how he opens and closes the verse, “The earth is the Lord’s and those who dwell therein.” Again, we see God’s ownership of us. He is truly the Master. In Matthew 6:26-30 Jesus explains it this way, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 "and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” God is the great provider and for those who were created in His image, mankind, He provides for. We are God’s because He created us. We are God’s by right of redemption. We are God’s by His providential provision for us. So, “where there is stewardship, there is also ownership.” God owns us, gave us a stewardship. He is the Master and we are to serve Him as He wishes. And as we read in Genesis is wants us to have dominion, or to be stewards of His creation.
Because He has placed the responsibility of care for His creation upon man, He has equipped man with time, abilities and resources to fulfill this stewardship.
We MUST Be Good Stewards or Servants of God.
We have many things that we may use as tools in the service to God. We do not buy heaven or earn its glories, but each will be judged according to the deeds done in his body. Only good stewards of God's blessings will receive God's great gift of eternal life. No man will be lost because of neglect on the part of the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, but many will be lost because of their own neglect of the great salvation.
A great contribution is made to our peace of mind and genuine happiness by wise and unselfish use of the tools and blessings that God places at our disposal. We cannot enrich the lives of others without being blessed ourselves. God has promised to openly reward those who learn to share and serve. God is not served by men's hands as though He needed anything, but He is pleased as we make acceptable sacrifices in service to our fellow man. When we work with God, it is in an effort to make a better world for ourselves and others.
He that would be great is to be servant of all, but when he uses the things given to him by the Father above, he is left with no room to boast. He has only done his duty. It is required of stewards that they be faithful in the use of the things committed unto them. Let there be less thought given to receiving the proper praise and credit, and more thought given to the many things we need to do to the glory of God. Men may see our good works and glorify God. We seek not position, pay, or praise when we realize that we are servants of God purchased by the blood of Christ.
So often men complain of their inability to do great things so they bury their one talent. Life is made up of little words and small deeds, but great things may come of the cup of cold water given or by the word fitly spoken. Let us fill the moments of time with the little things that please God, and let the great goal be reached by always abounding in the work of the Lord that we can do. Servants generally busy themselves with small tasks that do not make head lines. Be good servants. Be faithful stewards. This is done by meeting and accepting opportunities that come our way. There is room for the small things that we can do.
Some about us who profess to be Christians do not carry their part of the load and do not live as they should. They will give account to God for their own failures. We cannot please God by pointing to their failures while we do nothing ourselves. We cannot go to heaven by the sins of others. We have sins enough of our own in duties we overlook. Each servant stands or falls before his own Master, and neither of us has been appointed judge. Let us busy our hands and minds with our own responsibilities. There may be times when we may provoke others to love and good works. We are allowed to think of others with the idea of helping them, but not for the purpose of excusing ourselves by their weaknesses.
Christ is head of His church and in charge of His vineyard. Faithful servants carry out orders rather than seeking to rearrange and change the plans of the Master. Some may report that they have done great things only to hear that they were workers of iniquity. Calling a work a good work will not make it acceptable to God if He did not authorize it. Very much thought and concern should be given to staying within the doctrine of Christ in whatever we undertake. The steward does not own the property which is given into his charge, and he is not free to use it except as directed. Many religious people are evidently very busy supporting and upholding the doctrines of men rather than the doctrine of God. Let the owner of the house plan the work. We busy ourselves carrying out His plans.
In God's house there are many who are workers together with God. A man is a poor example as a steward or servant if he cannot work with the other servants peacefully. Industry is forced to let some workers go because they cannot get along with their fellows. The Lord delights in those who are peace makers rather than in those who sow discord. Let us be busy and happy workers who enjoy the fellowship with other workers in the vineyard. Work becomes a great pleasure when there is happiness among all who are involved in the tasks at hand.
The Lord has planned for there to be overseers in each church. They are shepherds who work under the chief Shepherd and at His direction. Many of the things that the Lord wants done may be done quietly by the individual workers without the left hand knowing what the right hand does, but there are things to be done together. We need to be able to follow the scriptural leaders in such a way that their work will be a joy. They watch for our souls as they that must give account. They are not out of place when they in wisdom and kindness offer their counsel to us or to our children. In fact, we may exhort one another, or even reprove and rebuke, if we remember to do so with reverence and godly fear. In any work men may learn from one another. The church may edify itself in love and all grow stronger. We are to be able to take suggestions as well as to give them.
When we speak of the various topics discussed in the Bible we may call it preaching. To keep the servants zealous and informed as to the work to be done, there should be some servants who instruct, correct, warn, encourage, and seek to enlist new workers in public and private efforts. Paul's work as a steward of God was especially in this field. This is a great work. Evangelists are not the only teachers. The giving of proper instructions is an important aspect of God's plan. It calls for our coming together often. None should feel that his private efforts excuse him from the public gatherings. It is true that the private efforts are important, but they are not likely to continue if the workers neglect the assembling of themselves together. God knows we need to exhort one another because there is danger from the deceitfulness of sin. We honor God and edify one another when we do the things commanded in the assemblies. A good steward in God's work is not a lone wolf.
We are to lift up our eyes and look on the fields that are white unto harvest. The Lord wants laborers in His vineyard. Some complain that they are never given anything to do. They are bored by not having anything to do as perhaps preachers or other members of the church have. This is ridiculous! When they lift up their eyes and look, can they not see a white harvest ready for workers? Find something to do that needs doing and do it with your might. If you will look and then work, you will see more and more to do. Be faithful stewards. Do not be too blind to see the many things that need to be done.
Carpenters work with wood. Masons work with brick and stone. These materials are lifeless, and they do not fight back. The servants of the Lord do many things, but their great work is with people, and this requires patience, wisdom, love, self-control, knowledge, and any other legitimate tool. Two people are not as much alike as two bricks or two boards, so some efforts may bring surprises for which we are not prepared. We may have to pray, study, and make many efforts before finally seeing another living stone added to the temple of God. W e may need to become all things to all men that we may by all means save some. Let all things be done decently and in order.
In the kingdom of God every office from the eldership to the member of the church has a responsibility in stewardship. In the first century church even the apostles had the duty of being accountable for their actions (1 Cor. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:4; Eph. 3:1-4, 8). Then and now elders are included in this list (Tit. 1:7), gospel preachers (1 Cor. 9:16-17), and every individual member of the church (1 Pet. 4:10; Rom. 12:3-8). This command of stewardship teaches that all are under the divine command and authority of the Master (Mark 13:34; Matt. 28:18; Col. 3:17), and he has given us a job to perform (Mark 13:34; John 9:4; Eph. 2:10) as well as being expected to use our ability to bless and honor our Master in the faithful and wise execution of our talents and blessings (Matt. 24:15-17; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; Eph. 3:21). In reference to the wise use of our time or better yet the Lord’s time, the minister of the gospel heads the list of stewardship (1 Cor. 4:3). Paul exhorted Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:13-16, “. . . give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”
Let each one of us make the choice to obey Christ as the apostle Paul explains in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”