1Corinthians 4:1, 2 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
A steward is one who is hired or in a supervisory position over people or things. Everybody has some level of stewardship, and God requires us to be faithful in those things. Some are given great responsibility by God, and some less, according to our ability and His will for us. Parents are stewards over their children. Husbands and wives are stewards to each other. Employers are stewards over their employees and their businesses, and employees over their job responsibilities under their bosses. We are all stewards of the money we have, and responsible to seek to earn an honest living. Church leadership are stewards over the body, responsible for the teaching of God’s Word. The five-fold leadership ministries are to equip the saints for the work of the ministry – so all believers also have a degree of stewardship in the church body.
In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus told a parable about a ruler who gave his servants talents (money, equates to abilities/responsibilities) before leaving the country for a time. Those who used the money responsibly and gained more from it were rewarded by their lord when he returned. But one of the servants took the money and buried it to give back to the lord when he returned. This servant had the talent taken away, and was essentially fired from his position as a servant. In fact, Jesus said the servant would be cast into outer darkness, where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This should put a bit of the fear of God into every believer! It should motivate us!
Jesus told the unprofitable servant he could have put his money in the bank and got it back with interest. In other words, he could have stopped just being a pew-warmer at church and made himself available to be a blessing to others, even if it was just in small ways. God’s church is not a social club, nor a place to just go and mouth a few praise songs and get another sermon under our belt. We need to help each other grow up in Christ. Scripture says we should submit to each other, another way of saying we are stewards over one another. Jesus said we would be known by our love, and this is love. Jesus said we would be known by our fruit, and this is a minimal level of fruit.
Todays verses especially focus in on church leadership, those who are stewards of God’s Word. Those who have a calling in the five-fold ministries must strive for faithfulness in all things. When we are supposed to be at church services and are able to attend we should be there, regardless whether we are scheduled to serve the body at that time. Whether we are pastors or occasional Sunday school teachers, as stewards we should set the example for the rest of the body.
When we are not faithful, or frequently come in late, the body will eventually notice, even if just subconsciously. This will affect their attitudes toward church and toward God. It will decrease our effectiveness in ministry because of our bad testimony. How every believer lives affects the body to some degree, so all we all must be faithful stewards toward each other. But this goes double for leadership.
Now God understands if we really cannot be there due to outside employment or sickness, and the body will usually understand that, too. But when we miss church, or even just skip Sunday school, because we were up late partying, or bowling, or watching the late night talk shows, or whatever, and wanted to sleep in, then in the end we will reap the fruit of unfaithfulness. There was a time I was big into role-playing video games, and often stayed up late playing. But even if I was up most of the night, I would make sure I was at Sunday school and church, because my heart was to be faithful to God and His house. Several times one or another of the church leaders or memberswould comment on my faithfulness. But more importantly, God saw it and rewarded me with spiritual blessings and growth. He also put me in to run the projector with the praise songs for services.
Faithfulness is more than just church attendance. Many church members, and even leaders, attend church regularly and even serve in the church, but live worldly, un-sanctified lives otherwise. This also in unfaithfulness. We must also be faithful to God in our private lives to the degree which we have matured in Christ. And as we are faithful, the Spirit will continue to mature us.
For an example of choosing faithfulness from my life, I used to be big into reading science fiction and fantasy novels, and had a collection of over a hundred books in the genre. The Lord asked me to give up my collection of books and set aside reading them, even though I rarely took time out to read them at this point. This is an activity that used to occupy most of my free time, and I like having the books around even though I was reading less. At first I resisted the Lord’s prompting, but one night I finally decided I had heard Him right and packed up all those books to donate. That very night the Lord began to bless me with a much deeper understanding of the Bride of Christ. I chose to be faithful to God’s will for my life, and reaped the fruit of it.
A couple of months later, He told me to let go of playing the video games. After a short time considering it, I decided the game I was playing at that time would be my last. The games I like are role-playing fantasy, and this one probably had about a hundred hours left to complete the game. However, one time shortly thereafter during the praise and worship service, I realized thoughts of the game had taken over my mind as I planned what I would do next in it. God revealed to me in that moment how the game had become an idol in my life, and at that moment I decided, “No more of those games.” Now playing computer games is legal as a Christian, but if it was going to intrude on my service to God, it had to go immediately!
A few weeks after I obeyed God in this, the pastor set me in as an adult Sunday school teacher. God had a plan for my life, but first I had to give up my own natural, fleshly desires and learn faithfulness to Him in my personal life.
In the parable of the talents those who used them correctly gained more talents. If we are faithful to God as good stewads in the areas He gives to us, we will gain. That is His promise. Moreover, we will reap eternal rewards, just as the faithful stewards in the parable will given authority over cities comensurate wtih their spiritual faithfulness and gain.
For Reflection: What is God asking you to be faithful in right now? What areas of your life is He seeking fruit, spiritual gold? Ask God to reveal to you where you can use what He has given you.