This article on 1 Corinthians 4:2 is about stewardship and what it means to be a reliable and trustworthy steward.

Source: The Outlook, 1986. 3 pages.

1 Corinthians 4:2 - Faithful Stewards

It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:2

In the month of November we observe Thanks­giving Day, both in the U.S. and in Canada. In the U.S. it began long ago with our Pilgrim fathers. Abraham Lincoln was the first president to make this a national holiday. It has been the custom ever since. Even though our countries are by no means what they should be, morally and spiritually, we should be thankful that we have governments that set aside such a day.

In this Scripture we read about stewards, and the assumption that stewards should be faithful. The Scriptures often speak of stewards. Eliezer was Abraham's faithful steward. Jacob for a time was steward of his uncle Laban's cattle. Joseph apparent­ly was steward in Potiphar's house. The role also seems to have been familiar in Christ's day. Every household of distinction seems to have had a steward in charge.

A steward generally had to manage the affairs of his master. Usually he was not a slave. He was entrusted with something, often much. Given charge of his master's affairs and business, he often faced the temp­tation to keep things for himself. He was always ac­countable to his master and at times had to give reports of his work and business.

The disciples were stewards of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul says here that he was a steward of the mysteries of God. He had to take scrupulous care of that which was entrusted to him, and give it to others faithfully. This was his instruction from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christians are also stewards, "managers" of the Lord, of what He has given us. And that is, first of all, the great gifts of salvation, as well as many spiritual and material gifts. Of these, we are to be stewards for the Lord.

A good steward is one who realizes first of all that all he has is of and from the Lord. He has nothing of his own (Psalm 24). The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof. Our very life is of the Lord.

Let's consider this in the fall of the year, the thanksgiving season. The crops of the farmer, the wages of the labouring man and all the financial returns of the businessman are of the Lord. We might object to this by saying that we worked for what we received. True, but also the ability to work, to do business, was and is of the Lord. Remember that all you have is of the Lord.

But we are stewards. All these things were "loaned" to us. This means that they all are also for the Lord, not for ourselves. A good steward in Bible times wouldn't think of taking for himself what belonged to his master.

All of our earthly possessions, money, time, and talents are for the Lord. With them we must serve the Lord, in gratitude for the great salvation given us. That's what the Scripture means when it says that we are the Lord's. He is our Lord and Master.

Paul says to Timothy in another place that the Lord has richly given us all things to enjoy. While we may enjoy the good gifts given us, and have a "good" liv­ing, we must do this responsibly, serving the Lord with what we have and enjoy.

He doesn't want us to be robots, acting mechani­cally in this, but as rational, moral, responsible Chris­tians. He wants us to do this with renewed and lov­ing hearts and minds.

This verse of 1 Corinthians 4 says that stewards must be faithful, trustworthy and reliable. No boss would con­sider "hiring" a man who he knew would not be honest and reliable.

God wants us to be faithful, dependable and always return to Him as He has given to us.

This has to begin in our hearts, thankful to Him and loving Him.

God has given us Himself in the gift of Jesus Christ. And as Christians He has also given us material abun­dance. Have there ever been Christians to whom He has given more than to us? And we are stewards. We must serve Him with it all.

We must do this daily, thanking Him for all His gifts. This implies that we may not murmur or complain, as the Israelites did in the wilderness.

We must serve God with converted pocket-books. Remember that at a time when most of us have re­ceived much, Christ's church and many kingdom causes urgently need financial support. And how much we read in the Bible of the need of helping the poor. This means more than giving in the offering plates once or twice a month for benevolent causes.

What kind of stewards are we in proportion to what the Lord has given us? How much do we spend for ourselves for clothing, eating out, and luxuries, com­pared with what we give? This principle of Christian stewardship also applies to those who have less, are considered to be poor, or are hard pressed farmers. They must see that their plight is also of the Lord. The needy farmer must see his present difficulties as trials of faith from his faithful Lord, and respond in faith.

Given little or much, a good steward is faithful. To people who are rich and millionaires in the church, the Lord has given much. Ought they now to give all away, and leave for themselves only a meager living? How much should rich people give to the Lord? I remember a well-to-do church member "burdened" with that question.

In answer to the question we must see, first of all, that the Bible does speak of rich people. Men like Job, David, Solomon and others were millionaires accord­ing to our standards. The Lord nowhere condemns them for being rich. Neither does He instruct them to give away all they had. We do read of Barnabas in the first New Testament church, who gave all he had to the kingdom and was commended for it. But the apostles didn't further say that every rich person had to do this.

In the second place, we must see that the Scriptures do not give us an objective, mechanical answer about how much the rich, or in fact every Christian, should give to the Lord. The Old Testament had the rule of tithing, giving a tenth. Many people, I think, still use this as a guide-line. But it is not the final answer of the Bible. The answer of the Bible is, for all stewards, give from the heart, give as much as you love Him. For many or all of us, it might have seemed easier if the Lord had given direct, specific instructions. Why doesn't He? Because He wants us to be stewards who respond in love, "Freely you have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8). Each must be a faithful steward.

Who can do this? How can we do this? Only through the salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ. Only when we truly know the Lord. Only when we know that as vile sinners we are saved by the wondrous elec­tive love of God in His Son. Then we can say that we have the "only comfort" that we are not our own, but with body and soul, belong to our faithful saviour Jesus Christ.

By nature, we steal from God. All men receive many good gifts from the Lord. But the unbeliever doesn't know Christ and he doesn't know true, Christian love. The natural man robs God; he steals from Him daily. The one question that affects and colours all of his ac­tions is, "What is there in it for me?"

Look at Jesus Christ. He was and is the very Son of God. He owned the world, which He had made. But He came into this sinful world in the form of a servant, a slave. All He ever owned was the clothing on His back. He gave Himself for His people in His atonement on the cross. And we are saved by His free grace.

Knowing this, I can say, "I belong to Jesus and Jesus is mine." I may be assured that I belong to Him forever. Nothing in the whole world can ever change that. What a comfort and blessing!

And knowing ourselves and our daily failures, we learn to know daily the grace that forgives again and again, according to His infinite mercies. He does not fail, even though we do every day. How precious this Jesus becomes, as we learn of that forgiving grace year after year.

By that grace we are to be responsible stewards of our wonderful God, faithfully using material things to serve and honor Him. May we be His faithful stewards in this thanksgiving season.

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