Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Steward, Owner, or Consumer?

If you ask me at any given moment if I see myself primarily as a steward, an owner, or a consumer of the blessings that God has entrusted to me, I will say that I am a steward. However, in the rush of daily life, it's easy for me to act more like I'm the primary owner or the entitled consumer of the goods that the Lord has placed in my care. It's good for me to reflect often that I am a steward who is working for the King.

What is a steward? Here's the definition according to the 1828 edition of Webster's Dictionary:

1. A man employed in great families to manage the domestic concerns, superintend the other servants, collect the rents or income, keep the accounts, &c. See Genesis 15:2 and 43:19.
2. An officer of state; as lord high steward; steward of the household, &c.
3. In colleges, an officer who provides food for the students and superintends the concerns of the kitchen.
4. In a ship of war, an officer who is appointed by the purser to distribute provisions to the officers and crew. In other ships, a man who superintends the provisions and liquors, and supplies the table.
5. In Scripture and theology, a minister of Christ, whose duty is to dispense the provisions of the gospel, to preach its doctrines and administer its ordinances.

Webster's uses the following quote to illustrate these uses of the word steward, "It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." 1 Corinthians 4.

In Luke 12:13-48 KJV, we find an example of Jesus' teachings about stewardship:

"And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.

The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?

And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?

If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.

For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;

And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.

Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.

Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?

And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?

Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;

The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."

What are the qualities of a good steward? I think we can learn from this that the faithful stewardess of her home has her master's interests in mind. She is rich toward the Lord and uses her money and other resources to further the things that matter to Him. She is watchful and not slack or lazy. She is not anxious or greedy, for she knows that she is the recipient of the Master's loving and abundant care. She knows that He provides for her now and also will bestow on her a great, eternal, and graciously-given reward. She is thoughtful of the other servants in the Master's house, and she sees to their needs. She is ready at any moment to give an accounting of the blessings entrusted to her. Her treasure is in heaven, with her Master, and she looks forward to His coming.


1 comment:

Buffy said...

How often we fall into the trap of thinking that material goods and wealth will ensure our happiness. Two thousand years after Jesus said these wonderful things, are we any closer to finding the kingdom of heaven within? You wouldn't think so if you read the popular magazines or watch TV with all its advertising.