Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 5 May 20:
1 Corinthians 4:1-5 — “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful…. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”
This is how we must see ourselves – “as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” The Greek word for “steward” is oikonomos which means manager, overseer, or treasurer – a person who takes care of the affairs and estate of the Master. The steward is most trusted by the master and must prove faithful. The words steward or stewardship are used 17 times in the Bible. In the Old Testament the word steward is used exclusively for a person who manages a leader’s estate or property like Joseph did for Pharaoh. In the New Testament, however, the word is used exclusively for stewards of God’s grace – “to make the word of God fully known.” (Colossians 1:25, 1 Peter 4:10, Titus 1:7, 1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 9:17; Ephesians 3:2; 1 Timothy 1:4) The Bible says, we have been entrusted (as stewards) with both the “ministry” and “message” of reconciliation as “ambassadors” for Christ —
– 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 — All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The New Testament verses on stewardship make it abundantly clear that as Christ’s ambassadors entrusted with the ministry and message of reconciliation, we must be faithful to the message in both word and in deed. We must talk the Gospel and the righteousness of God, but we must also walk the Gospel and righteousness of God – “For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach…. (Titus 1:7)
We have a sacred calling and requirement – that we “be found faithful.” We must diligently critique ourselves, but not by just considering our behavior, we must search our hearts to understand the motivations behind our behavior, seeking to eliminate pride, fear, self-centeredness, and guilt that would cause us to do the “right” things for the wrong (fleshy) reasons.
We should also remember that we remain poor judges of our own character, often deceiving ourselves, thinking higher of ourselves than we ought. Even still, we must also recognize the righteousness we have in Christ, not of ourselves but through grace, credited to us by Him. Spirit-enabled humility is key, particularly when we begin feeling confident in our actions.
– Proverbs 21:2 — Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.
– Romans 12:3 — For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
– 2 Corinthians 13:5 — Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
– Galatians 6:3 — For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
– 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We must also acknowledge that if we are poor judges of our own character, we are certainly far worse judges of the character of others. We cannot see another person’s heart and cannot understand what motives are behind the actions of others. Only God knows the heart.
– 1 Corinthian 2:11 — For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?
– Jeremiah 17:10 — “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.
– Psalm 44:21 — Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.
– Proverbs 30:10 — Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.
Until God discloses the purposes of the hearts of ourselves and others, we can only hold each other accountable to behavior from the measure of the word of God, but with humility and gentleness, recognizing that we all sin and fall short of the Glory God, and that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not through the merits of our behavior.
– Luke 17:10 — So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
– 1 Corinthians 15:9 — For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
– 2 Thessalonians 1:5 — This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—
– 1 Thessalonians 2:12 — …we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
– Colossians 1:10 — …so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
– Philippians 1:27 — Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel….
We are unworthy servants who Christ have been made worthy through His righteousness, and now He calls us trusted friends (John 15:5), even family (John 1:12; 1; John 1:12-13; John 3:1-2; Ephesians 1:5), entrusted with the family name. You have been made worthy, so live worthily. Strive relentlessly but humbly to be found worthy of your sacred calling, and be prepared to proclaim why the Good News is so “good.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 5 May 20: Today, strive to “be found faithful,” while proclaiming salvation by grace through faith in Christ.