Stewardship Series 09 #2
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
A Faithful Steward
Our emphasis this month is on stewardship, caring for the things the Lord has given us and honoring him.
If you were not with us last week, we invested in all willing, a sum of money and asked you to pray about how you could take the investment of the Lord’s money and after a month, return the investment with increase on the final Sunday in November. We gave each Adult $10 and each child $5. If you were not here but would like to participate with us in this exercise in stewardship, you can see a deacon after the service and they will gladly share with you the same opportunity.
Today we move on in this study of stewardship.
Paul begins this section of his letter with the phrase “so then … regard us” …
The last chapter begins with Paul saying that they were still spiritually infants, immature in their faith and his job was to feed them the simple food to enable them to grow up
Then he points to the evidence of their immaturity in the faith 3:3 says you are “still worldly” he said they quarrel over style of leadership or preaching styles … some saying they like Paul, others Apollos, still others prefer Peter.
Then in verse 16 he reminds them that they are God’s Temple and God’s Spirit lives in them, reminding them that we just can’t live our lives based on a worldly understanding of things. Verse 19 says “the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God’s sight”
So, we have no room for boasting about church, or leaders, or ourselves
V21 says “all things are yours” this present life, leaders, this world, even death and the future to come are OURs
But though we Have all things 3:23 gives us the Big Perspective “You are OF Christ … and Christ is OF God”
Just as Jesus Submits to the Father though all things are HIS … so we must submit to Christ in all things though we have been given all things …
And we start chapter 4 .. “SO THEN”
Read Chapter 4:1-5
So then …
1. It is Required
This instruction is not a suggestion, an idea, or an option
It is required – apaiteo ap-ah-ee-the-o to ask back; demand back, exact something due
This is an Expectation, a command for a steward
In the previous chapter, Paul has been talking about himself, Apollos and Peter and he continues that thought saying “looks at us, are “servants” …
A. A Servant of Christ
A Servant of Christ or Minister of Christ in today’s culture sounds lofty. “We are Servants of Christ” … we are important, we are noteworthy, we are special …
NOPE … that is not this word
Huperates hoop-ay-ret-ace servant (literally) an underrower, one who serves with their hands.
Paul says we aren’t the Captain of the ship … we aren’t the navigator, we aren’t even the Pilot … we are just down below deck rowing when the task master says “row”
We are all equals … I am not a special person, just a servant
and so if you will sit alongside me and row with me while we go where our Captain, Navigator, and Pilot directs we can faithfully serve him
We are servants of Christ …
B. If Given a Trust
We are but underrowers but also we are “those entrusted” …
Oikonomos – manager of household affairs; a steward, manager; to whom the head of the house has entrusted the management of his affairs
One definition says “a steward is a servant who manages everything for his master, but who himself OWNS NOTHING”
What have we been given as a Trust?
Every Person has been given life
Every Person has been given Resources
If you OWN them or HOLD on to them, then in a sense they OWN or Control You.
So you ask, do my things own me? My finances, my home, my car, my possessions, my job, any part of my life, does it OWN me
Or, does God own those things and I am a manager of them FOR HIM.
Do you seek to bring glory and pleasure to God through your life, resources, home, car, possessions, job, and all?
Then Every Born Again Follower of Jesus has been given things in trust too. Salvation comes with Eternal Life, the Holy Spirit within, Spiritual Gifts, the Commission of Service, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself.
They are NOT ours, they belong to God and are a trust given to us to manage for the glory of God
Your salvation belongs to God
Your spiritual gifts belong to God
The Gospel of Jesus Christ given to you, belongs to God. Paul calls it “the secret things” or a “mystery”.
We understand the love and grace of God by Experience even more than by comprehension
And there is a world without Christ that needs to know what YOU know about Jesus
Do you have life?
Do you have Resources?
Do you have Eternal Life, the Holy Spirit, Spiritual Gifts, the Gospel and a Commission to Serve?
Yes, Yes, Yes, and more yeses …
You have been given a trust, not just Paul the Apostle, or Preachers, or Missionaries or Deacons, or whatever
You ARE a Steward
You Serve God
You are caring for things that belong to him
And you must
2. Prove Faithful
So, you have to agree that we have a trust
We have a trust in the natural realm and in the spiritual realm, and we must prove faithful … Let’s break these two words down
This word translated “prove” or “found” in the NASB is the Greek word heurisko – to come upon; after searching to find a thing sought; to find by enquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, to find out by practice and experience
When you put this word together with verse 4 that says there is a judging coming … you understand that because we have a trust and that trust is accountable
This matches with the teaching of Jesus last week depicted in the Parable of the King giving monetary resources and then calling in the stewards to give account for their actions. And there is the parable of the talents where 3 stewards were told to care for the Master’s goods and then give account when he returned.
So, because we have life, resources, jobs, spiritual gifts, eternal life, a commission to service and evangelism … we must prove ourselves under careful observation and scrutiny.
“Prove” carries with it the understanding of obedience to instructions and expectations and the understanding of desiring to please the Master first, most, and sometimes ONLY.
I remember when I was in the 6th Grade. I started babysitting for some church members. I was only a few years older than the boys I was watching. The rules they had to follow, what to eat, watch on TV, and when to go to bed weren’t always popular. I wanted to be cool and accepted by those boys, but I didn’t answer to them and they didn’t pay me. So, it wasn’t important if they liked me. I answered to their parents who had entrusted those boys to my care.
We have to prove ourselves to be obedient with the resources given us by our Lord
I will be specific though not exhaustive as I have two more messages to follow on this subject
In regards to Finances the Scripture teaches …
… consistent or planned giving in accordance with your income
… percentage giving is the pattern laid out in the O.T. and understood as a standard in the N.T.
… sacrificial giving of offerings were common as directed by a leading of the Holy Spirit
You may not be there yet. You may not be giving a tithe instead you might be giving based on what fits or makes sense to you. But I want you to know that you can trust the Lord to take care of you if you will obey him.
If you’ve gotten yourself in a situation where giving seems impossible, then take a planned, prayed over series of steps toward obedience in regards to our giving
Stay with me …
What about our Life and Witness?
In Life, we are instructed in scripture on how to live. It is to be a life of a disciple, imitator of Christ. We are responsible for how we obey that command. Jesus said, over and over, “Follow me” that means live like ME
In Witness, we are commanded to be agents by which God reconciles the world to himself. We are ambassadors for Christ. We are to go and make disciples
We are to be witnesses, across the street, across town, across the country, across the world, and we must PROVE or SHOW our Obedience in this area as well.
But it isn’t about doing it once and saying “I’ve done THAT”
“I’ve checked the box”
“Ok Lord, I gave a tithe, I’ve done that”
“Ok Lord, I gave a witness, I’ve done that”
“Ok Lord, I was kind to my neighbor, I’ve done that”
We must prove
“Faithful” – pistos - trusty, faithful; a person who shows themselves faithful in transacting business
There is a geyser in Yellowstone National Park called “Old Faithful” … It didn’t get that name by erupting every now and then, semi-regularly; when it feels like it. The name came from repeated observed actions
And a steward entrusted with the things that are God’s, but given to us as a trust, must prove themselves with faithfulness
Remember the word “prove” means “observation, to find out by practice and experience”
God has every right and IS watching and holding us accountable
We have a trust and so we are Required to Prove Faithful, knowing that we will be both Judged and Rewarded …
3. In Due Time
We will be held accountable for what has been given to us
Paul points out Four “Courts of Opinion”
if you haven’t already turned me off, please hear this … he saw these “courts”
- We Judge one another … even in the church we have opinions and we are also sometimes quick to share what we think with each other aren’t we? We want to “share” and set each other straight. … The church is the first court of opinion
- Then we can be judged by “Human Courts” or non-christian opinions
- then another court, sometimes the most harsh or deceptive, we judge ourselves with what WE think is right or best
But of these three “Courts” … Paul says in verse 3 “I care very little” or “a very small thing”
Elachistos – smallest or least --- we might say “I could care less”
He goes on to say “I am NOT innocent, but my conscience is clear. It is the Lord who judges me.”
I don’t have time to work that side trip folks, but listen …
… we all fail in the areas we have been entrusted; finances, witness, discipleship, service, none of us are innocent but Hallelujah we CAN be blameless
Noah was blameless, Job was blameless, Zechariah was blameless too … how? They were blameless by walking faithfully and obediently and by seeking forgiveness and cleansing when they failed …getting up and moving forward in obedience … and so can we
So, Paul says we must realize today that you don’t answer to me or to deacons, or a teacher, to fellow church members or believers but we answer to the Lord. Yes, HE judges Christians too. Yes we are IN Grace and are forgiven but still accountable for how we live. Also we should know that when God judges he also rewards.
And there is an …
A. Appointed Time
Everything God does is on schedule. He is deliberate and orderly. He may live outside time but he created time and thus schedules. He isn’t making it up as he goes along.
Jesus came to this earth at “just the right time”
Jesus said “no one knows the time or the hour of the end except the Father”
But HE KNOWS … There IS an appointed Time coming.
Be encouraged, Faithful One … don’t judge things by what you see NOW
That word “Judge” in v5 means “separate, pick out” … i.e. don’t pick out your current circumstance until God finishes until the
“Kairos” – due measure, a fixed definite time”
When is that? I can tell you but I can’t … it doesn’t mean you are getting it on this earth. I don’t know WHEN on the Calendar but it is WHEN Jesus Comes … so we are told to “wait until the Lord Comes”
The word “Lord” there is “kurios” koo-ree-os - HE to Whom a person or thing belongs
Wait until the Lord to whom all things belong comes
“Wait till your Father Gets Home” that phrase is exciting or dreadful depending on what you have done.
If you’ve completed the task, then reward is coming. If you haven’t then you have an expectation of disappointment
And when the One, who Owns it All, comes then he will bring light to everything and understanding to all
B. Light is Coming
Don’t judge God’s actions until then
Yes he will assess us at that point too, but scripture is clear that there are rewards then too.
Many faithful ones, who were never noticed, will be rewarded openly
Matthew 4:4, 6, 18 all say that “The Father sees what is done in secret and will reward openly”
Jesus stood once with his disciples at the Offering Bucket in the Temple. Many gave that day out of their wealth, in other words, they gave what they could spare. But Jesus noticed a poor widow, no visible means of support, and she gave a “mite” like ½ a penny and Jesus took notice and said “she gave more than all the others because she gave all she had”
… Jesus noticed the Offering bucket.
You and I should be faithful and grateful knowing that God notices and eventually everyone will know when light comes.
That woman has been rewarded greatly and I believe will be for eternity
C. His Praise is All that Matters
If you give so PEOPLE will notice, or give you praise the Lord will know that
If you serve or witness for man’s praise you have your reward here on earth
But if we serve the Lord faithfully with the Trust we have been given the Lord will Reward you
The Bible talks about some of God’s rewards
The Crown of the Soul-winner – Phil 4:1
The Crown of Righteousness – 2 Tim 4:8
The Crown of Life – James 1:12
The Crown Incorruptible 1 Cor. 9:25
Don’t give just to make the Pastor happy
Don’t give a faithful witness because it’s the church thing to do
But do it all for the Glory and Praise of our God for one day we will stand before him … will he say “well done, you have been faithful with a little take charge over much”
You might ask “why would we want rewards anyway? Seems unspiritual”
Revelation 4:10 says that the 24 elders, which are representative of the church, will take those crowns and “lay their crowns before the throne saying, ‘you are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power”…
The Crowns we receive are just Praise Ammunition …
Serve Him faithfully with your gifts, time and talents
Give your treasures to him with faithful obedient giving
Share your witness faithfully as the Lord leads and gives opportunities
Scott Simpson, a PGA Tour Golfer was playing the US Open in 1987 at Olympic Country Club. He was playing with Tom Watson in the final group on Sunday. He was one stroke ahead on the 16th hole and he pushed his drive into the woods. Most expected him to punch out into the fairway and try and knock it on and one putt to save par. Instead he took a little opening and went for the green, avoiding the bunkers and making a 15 foot birdie putt, amazing considering the pressure. Jack Nicklaus was with the TV Broadcast and laughed, saying “I never thought of hitting it that way … he said that must be the greatest thing Simpson has ever done” . Simpson held off Tom Watson on the final two holes and won the US Open. In the afterglow of the win in the interview someone echoed Jack’s comments and asked “is this the most important thing you have ever done?” Simpson replied “No, accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord was the greatest thing I have ever done.” That day before the round began Simpson wrote something on his scorecard BEFORE he began
Colossians 3:23-24 “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Scott threw his Crown at Jesus’ Feet that day and he will again one day in eternity
If Jesus is worthy to receive glory, honor, and power, then he is worthy to receive my life, my love, my money, my witness, my service, and my all!
He is Worthy to receive an enlarged reputation as I witness
He is Worthy to receive honor of obedient giving
He is Worthy to receive all my strength as I serve faithfully
Glory, Honor, and Power are His …
Love the Lord Your God with Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength and he will Reward you at the fixed, definite, and sure coming time of his Return
He is Coming
Yes He is Coming