Introduction: One of the most familiar words in all the scripture is the word “faith”. We recognize that faith in Jesus is at the heart of our relationship to God, and is the activity of our salvation. The word that is translated faith most often in the scriptures in the Greek word “pistis” which means “firm persuasion” or “conviction”.(Vines) But the word is also used to mean “trust”, or as noun it is rendered trustworthiness or fidelity. In that sense, we must put our trust in God in order to be saved.
But we also recognize that this call to faith for salvation is more than a single moment in time. We must live by faith (Heb. 10:38) and be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10). What does it mean to be faithful?
Consider1 Timothy 1:12 – And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, . When Paul explained to Timothy why God chose him, Paul, to be an apostle, the first reason he mentioned was because He counted me “faithful”.
- The term here means reliable or trustworthy. In context, it signifies that God entrusted Saul of Tarsus with the task of being an apostle with full confidence that he would not let him down. God’s accounting of Saul’s (Paul’s) reliability looked forward to the future task, but also reflected God’s assessment of his present heart. Paul, even as Saul of Tarsus, was a trustworthy person. God could trust him to do the right thing when he was convinced of it. Of course, God, through His omniscience could see the future and Paul’s response to his
- As Paul was trustworthy, we also need to be trustworthy. The role we fill before God in this concern is that of a steward. God has chosen us as the stewards and He needs to be able to trust us. 1 Corinthians 4:2 – Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
I. The Stewardship of God’s Gifts: The concept of stewardship runs throughout the Bible. The position of a steward was familiar in the N.T. times. This person was many times a personal slave, but sometimes a freeman who was given full rein to use the owner’s resources to his own benefit. But he was always accountable to the owner, and if found unfaithful, he was immediately discharged. We see this in Jesus parable of the unrighteous steward in Luke 16:1-2 – There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. 2 So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’
A. Several of Jesus’ parables rely upon the concept of stewardship. The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 clearly embraces this thought. The servant who receives a gift is made responsible to utilize it. To the one talent servant who hid his talent the master relied, Matt 25:27 – So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.
B. The concept is easily applicable to us today. We are given many gifts from God. (“Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights” – James 1:17). It matters how we use what God provides.
Consider Some Applications:
II. Our Stewardship of Physical Resources: Every physical resource and financial blessing, and material blessing is a gift from God. We conclude that we earn our living, but that is not accurate. God provides the resources by which we sustain ourselves and others.
A. The spiritual implications of using our money properly. Luke 16:10-13 – 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? 13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Our eternity is wrapped up in the way we handle this stewardship. God will not entrust us with any true riches and resources if we do not handle our material blessings properly. The overarching principle Jesus teaches is that we must always remember that material resources are to be our tools not our master.
B. What Does God Require?
1. Caring for Our Own: 1 Tim 5:8 – But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Apostolic teaching called for discipline against those who were lazy or would not work to support their own.
2. Giving to the Needy: Ephesians 4:28 – 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Paul places benevolent work as the reason for my work. We would denounce the thief, but excuse the tightwad. Hebrews 13:16 – 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
3. Additionally, it means demonstrating Giving to the Lord’s Work (which in this text was congregational benevolence) 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 – 6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
4. What the good steward cannot do is hoard financial blessings to himself. God has blessed us so we can bless others. Can God trust you with this stewardship?
III. Our Stewardship of Abilities: What you can do, you must do for God. Romans 12:6-8 – 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
A. Paul lists various abilities (or gifts). Some seem to be miraculously given (prophecy) but others are common abilities (minister, teaching, exhorting, giving, etc) Not everyone has the same ability, but no one is without responsibility. Paul presents the use of various gifts in the context of the associated responsibility. If you CAN teach, then teach; if you CAN serve, then serve; if you CAN exhort, then exhort.; if you CAN give then do it liberally. Luke 12:48“For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
B. Why has God given us our abilities? 1 Peter 4:10-11 – 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
He gave us our abilities to serve others in order to glorify Him.
IV. Our Stewardship of Opportunities: In I Corinthians 3:5, Paul, addressing issues of personal evangelism, said, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one” (NASB). The opportunities that come our way are gifts from God and He expects us to use them to His glory.
A. According to Galatians 6:10 (10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.) God expects us to use the opportunities we receive for doing good. It seem to imply that we all get these opportunities.
1. When I first began preaching I worked with a small church in Lady Lake, FL. We met in the mobile home of a man named George. George was always conscious on the opportunity to teach others. He spoke to everyone, in every circumstance about God. He was not a great teacher or preacher, but he was a faithful steward.
2. You have been given opportunities that you never see. To encourage others who are doing good. Ephesians 4:29 – 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Can God trust you with this stewardship?
V. Our Stewardship of Relationships: Our relationships are gifts from God. We often thank God for our families, children, even our friends. But do we see these gifts as responsibilities?
A. If God gave you a marriage, He expects that marriage to bring Him glory. How can your marriage bring glory to God?
1. First, It can last, rather than end in divorce. Beyond that, it can provide a healthy environment for children; be a place of refuge for your mate; be an example to others; reflect the unity of Christ and His church. That is your responsibility.
2. The same hold true for other relationships. The church can bring glory to God, but only if we are responsible to maintain unity and learn to get along. Consider Philippians 2:3-4 – 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
a. Being a good steward of our relationships means being the servants. It means viewing the others as more important. It means seeking the wants and desires of others.
3. Being a good steward of our relationships means never viewing our relationships as tools for our own personal advantage. It is always viewed in the perspective of my relationship to God. Col 3:22-24 – Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
• Rom 14:7-8 – For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. Can God trust you with this stewardship?
VI. Our Stewardship of Time: Benjamin Franklin said, time is the stuff life is made of. Ephesians 5:15-17 – 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. We are to value time and view it as precious.
A. Jesus places a premium on this when He commands us to seek first His kingdom and righteousness. There are many things that vie for our time. (Matthew 6:33).Everything we do, at every minute is to be motivated and governed by God’s word and will.
B. We all have the same amount of time. There are folks that amaze me with all they get done for God. I wonder where they get the time. But I know that God gave it to them, and He gave me the same gift. The question is not what do I have time to do? The question is what will I do with the time I have? That is where stewardship comes in. We have to choose how we will invest our time. Can God trust you with this stewardship?
VII. Our Stewardship of the Gospel: Return to 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 – Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. Paul viewed himself as a steward of God’s gospel. His duty was to faithfully teach it. I know that we are not apostles. However, we are the tools God uses to pass along His word.
A. As the song we sing says, “Into our hands the gospel is given.” What are we going to do with it? We are to be faithful stewards of this gospel. The word gospel means good news. How can we hold this truth to ourselves? 2 Kings 7 – 4 lepers in the city of Samaria as Benhadad (Syrian army) had besieged the city. We will die anyway, let’s go to the camp of the enemy. Found it empty. Should they tell others? 2 Kings 7:9 – Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us.
1. We must teach it. Romans 10:13-15 – 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? If we do not teach it, no one will be saved.
2. We must live it. We have an enormous responsibility to walk worthy of the calling with which we were called. (Eph. 4:1)
Conclusion: God is trustworthy. He is faithful. He never lies and always keeps His promises. Thus, His character is implicitly my goal. I must strive to be counted faithful to the blessings He has given me.
This is an issue of accountability because there is coming a time of judgment. Our time for being faithful is limited. Luke 12:42-48 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. We want to be the faithful slave whom the Lord finds watching when He returns.