CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP AND THE BIBLE
The dictionary and Bible definition of a steward:- A person who administers the house, property, finances, land, etc., of another.
Or in other words, someone who has been trusted to look after and be in control of someone else's goods, and business.
God has great riches and much business. His riches are His Word of Truth and His Righteousness, etc. We have all, to some degree, been given the responsibility of handling these precious valuables.
1 Pet 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good STEWARDS of the manifold grace of God.
Some have been given more responsibility than others have; these are the elders, those that preach, teach, and pastor the sheep. We all, to an extent, are stewards of God's valuables. We have all been given a gift of some sort. All we have to do is seek God to find out what it is, and then work to the best of our ability in whatever God has called us to do. Many may desire some important job such as a prophet, a teacher, preacher or pastor. But just as a body needs many different parts to operate, so too does the body of Christ. Read 1st Cor 12. Now people would naturally assume that those who hold these high positions are more important than the others are, which is why some seek these positions. But many today ignore the fact that in Vs 11 + 18, of this chapter in Corinthians, the Spirit of God divides these gifts severally as He will. We cannot become a prophet or an apostle simply because we desire to be held in high esteem due to our position in the church. God chooses people for these positions for their humility not their pride. And as we can see from Vs 21-31, that even though we might consider those with higher positions to be more honorable than the others, we are to bestow even more abundant honor upon those that we think to be less honorable. The fact is that all our jobs are important, we all need each other, we are all equal in God's sight, and there is not one of us that is worth more than another. We need those in the body with seemingly less important jobs, because we cannot all be the eye, otherwise where would be the hearing? We need each and every part in the body, and if one was missing (any one) that part would be missed and the body could not function properly. We are all needed, we are all important, and all equal. A husband is the head of his wife, He has the power and authority over her. The police enforce the law and have power over us to see that this law is upheld. Yet the husband is not more important than his wife, nor is the policeman more important than we are. They have a higher position and more responsibility but they are no more important than those that they are over. In fact there is a difference between the worldly leader and the Godly one, Luke 22:25-27, the worldly leader exercises lordship over his benefactors, whereas the Godly leader is not a big proud man to be held in high esteem, but he is to be as the servant. So even though we are all equal in God's sight and all our jobs important, this parable is directed at those who have been entrusted to look after the sheep. The leaders or elders in the church, who have been given the responsibility of serving, feeding, caring for, and protecting the sheep. They have a big responsibility, and will be judged harder than others because they have been entrusted with more and therefore more is expected of them. Are you sure you still want to be a leader? Yes it is a bit scary in some ways and a rather large burden, but Jesus said that his yoke is easy and his burden is light, not because it is easy and light but because it is by His strength that we can do this work. Often the good things in life don't come easily, but they are worth the effort.
1 Cor 4:1-2 Let a man so account of us, as the ministers of Christ, and STEWARDS of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in STEWARDS, that a man be found faithful.
Tit 1:7-9 For a bishop must be blameless, as the STEWARD of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
We can see from these verses that leaders or elders who have been given this responsibility of stewardship to feed and care for the sheep, ought to do so in righteousness. Not as it says in 2nd Cor 4:2 by walking in craftiness and handling the Word of God deceitfully, which is largely the case today.
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 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 whom shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
Blessed will be that steward or servant, who is faithful and gives those of his lords household their portion of meat in due season, and is found doing so upon the return of his lord. Blessed will be the steward or servant of God who is faithful with the Word of Truth and the gift that God has given him. Who is found upon the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, to be feeding the flock good meat from God's Word, and wisely so, because it is given in due season. BUT if that steward says in his heart there is time before the Lord comes back to do as I wish, to live the way I want, there is time now to sin and I will repent later, before the Lord returns. And instead of feeding those of his Lord's household (the menservants and maidservants) he beats them, not physically as in the parable but spiritually. He mistreated them at times perhaps deliberately and cruelly, but mainly he mistreated them and beat them, so to speak, by not feeding and caring for them. He allowed them to do as they pleased without giving them direction that they may inherit eternal life. Just as he who spares the rod hates his son, due, not only to his careless and unwise inaction, but also the end result often suffered by an undisciplined person. For this reason it is said that he hates him. And here we see that this stewards inaction is described as beating those whom he was asked to look after, because of the suffering they would now have to endure because he was not a good steward in leading and teaching them the ways of God. Saul sinned as he hearkened to the voice of the people rather than the voice of God. Eli as well was held accountable for the sinful actions of his sons because he restrained them not. Isn't a schoolteacher held responsible if he or she neglects to teach their students to read and write? Of course they are, it was their job to teach them! But the elders of today say that they are not responsible for the eternal death of their sheep that God has entrusted to them to feed and protect. They will say we are all accountable for our own actions. This is true, but as parents we have the duty to care for the little ones who cannot look after themselves. Can a baby feed himself? Can he change his own nappy? Of course not! We have been given that responsibility. We would not think that God would not hold us responsible if that baby died of starvation or was left to die in the cold, WAKE UP! People who have been given a place of responsibility, will be held accountable. They say, "Oh, I dare not judge!" But hasn't God given you the responsibility to do so? 1st Cor 6:1-6 If you can't judge, then set those that are least esteemed in the church to do so. I speak this to your shame. "But these things are private!" Is that what you intend to tell God on judgment day when he asks you why you did not warn those who are now burning in hell? Do you think God will understand? Yet these unjust stewards behave as if it is people like me who are the insensitive and thoughtless ones and that they are more caring because they respect peoples' privacy and would not judge the others. I wonder if those burning in hell would agree? God is a God who knows our innermost thoughts; He sees clearly things about us that we don't want to see. There are private and personal details written in the Word for all to see, things that we would find difficult to discuss. But when these private things are sin, it becomes an elder's business. I am told that to talk about family planning and to tell people it is sinful, is wrong because it is personal. If I was to tell a homos-xual that this activity is sinful shouldn't this also be considered as personal? Along with any other s-xual sin. But why stop there, any thing I do or say whilst not in the presence of others should also be considered personal. Should sin be left lie because it is personal? My God is a personal kind of God. They say many things are too difficult to understand, and therefore can not teach these things. But if the pastor and preacher don't then who will? Isn't it their job to look into these things so that they can deal with these issues? Didn't Jesus say that the Spirit of Truth shall lead us into all Truth?
2nd Tim 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
Matt 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
But these blind leaders do not even look. They prefer to be blind and will not even accept the truth though it be presented to them. I am presenting it to them right now, and they did not have to work for it, I did. There will be a lot of preachers and pastors who will have every reason to be ashamed on judgment day. The lack of understanding and love for the truth today is shameful. It is then said that the Lord will come at a time which will surprise him, because he will not be ready, even though he thought he would have time to repent, he will find that he does not.
2nd Pet 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.
Don't fool yourself. God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap Gal 6:7. The unjust steward will find himself sharing eternal damnation with the unbelievers and with those who allowed him to mislead them. Then he says, "that servant who knew his Lord's will and did not prepare himself or do 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." From this we can see that there are different levels of trust and expectations, and so also different degrees of judgment and punishment. Although there are many blind elders, they should not expect to get off free or receive only a few stripes, because they think there is safety in numbers.
Prov 11:21 Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished.
For the position they hold, though blind as they are, is a position of trust. And God's Word can not be interpreted as we see fit, in order to suit our lifestyle. I am sure that nobody would be happy to receive only a few stripes anyway. God has given some of us a position, which should not be considered higher than others have, but it is a position where one is entrusted with the ministering of God's Word. People don't seem to realise the importance of this position and take lightly the work we have been called to do. Our job is more important than the Prime Minister John Howard's is. What we say and teach will have an effect on people's eternity. We will be judged much harder than others as we have much expected of us and should know right from wrong, more so than some others.
And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? For my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely; for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations, He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they, which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
God's goods, (his great riches) are entrusted to his stewards here on earth, and we will be held accountable if we have wasted them. A steward is supposed to be trustworthy but unfortunately these days there are not many that are. Most tend to have no respect for their Lord's goods. They waste them terribly and are not even aware of their value. Here in Luke Ch 16 God has been informed of this and has asked this particular steward to give account of his stewardship and informed him that he may no longer be steward. There is a mark that we can overstep and God will take our ministry and possibly even our salvation. Saul's position as king was taken from him by God and was given to his neighbor who was said to be better than he. So Samuel by the commandment of God anointed David as King, and even though Saul held this position as King until he died, God was not with him.
Rom 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
So it is now, that there are those that God has rejected and yet continue to minister, even using the gifts of the spirit, but God is not with them. Saul was still able to prophesy while being tormented by an evil spirit from God. I don't want you to think it is too late to repent, this is between you and God. I sincerely hope not, but don't tempt God any more, repent now. Even though these stewards may boldly proclaim their innocence, they know within themselves that they have hardened their hearts to God's Holy Spirit. God has tried to speak to them but they would not listen, perhaps due to the fact that it seemed too difficult to stand against everyone for the truth's sake. He would have a difficult road with no friends. He would also have the embarrassment of having to admit that he was wrong to all the people he had lied to. So there are those stewards that God has called to repentance, but they would not. They know that God is no longer with them. They are conscious of the fact that they have resisted God's Spirit of Truth. And now they operate still as a steward, but on their own, knowing that what they teach is wrong and sinful. God has made them aware of these things. But instead of repenting and crying unto God he said within himself, "What shall I do?" Obviously, for him, the indignity of repentance is not an option. But rather he would look to himself for a solution, by some deceitful means, as he has grown accustomed to do. "What shall I do? For my Lord taketh away my stewardship. I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed." His stewardship had become to him no more than a way of earning a living. He as someone who had been fed by others was now too lazy to work and definitely too proud to beg. He is resolved what to do. When he is put out of his stewardship; he would seek to be received into the houses of his lord's debtors. He may be fed and clothed by them. His only goal is to have his earthly needs provided for. We can see from Vs 14 that the Pharisees (as this steward) were covetous as well. He then puts his plan into action without a thought or care for his lord's debtors. He had to make good friends with his lord's debtors, to be accepted into their houses. Then he could receive the necessities of life. So he called them to him, and he said unto the first "How much owest thou unto my lord?" And he said, "An hundred measures of oil." And he said to him, "Take your bill, sit down quickly, and write fifty." Then he said to another, "And how much owest thou?" And he said, "An hundred measures of wheat." And he said unto him, "Take thy bill and write fourscore (or, eighty)." Note that we all owe our Lord the same (one hundred measures). Whether we sinned much or little, we were all counted as dead in sin, and we all owe God our lives. We can also see from this that we all know how much we owe. Though we may deceive ourselves or look for the right steward to cut the cost, deep in our hearts we know how much we owe.
2nd Tim 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
If we are blind it is only because we want to be. But this steward was crafty; he gave a fifty percent discount to one and only twenty percent to the other. This he did because he knew how to play the game. He knew that some who were more honest than the others would not accept a big discount. He also knew that others would not be happy unless they did receive a big discount. So he knew what to do and say to keep the people happy. He was two faced. He would be and say whatever he had to, in order to acheive his goals. His decisions and actions were not consistent nor were they guided by godly wisdom and righteousness. They seemed eratic, yet they were calculative in a worldy fashion. This is how these unjust stewards behave. They feel there is no hope of turning around and so carelessly and selfishly drag everybody else down with them. They can not and will not repent because of their pride and covetousness. They will also savagely attack those who say things as I have done here. Unless of course they put on an act covering their hatred of those who present the truth. Everything for them is an act, hypocrites and liars that they are.
Luke 11:52 Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.
Then in Vs 8 the Lord commends this unjust steward for his wisdom, though this wisdom did not descend down from above; it was an earthly wisdom. He was wise in his evil ways, just as the other children of this world whom he was a part of. Vs 9 "and I say unto you, make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Jesus says make friends of the unrighteous; so that when we fail we may be received into their habitations. He said “everlasting habitations” because after they have welcomed you into their homes here on earth you will also spend eternity with them in hell.
Jesus is not literally telling us to do so, but rather he is being sarcastic. Many seem to think God has a sense of humor and writes jokes in his Word. This is not so, but he can be sarcastic, and you do not want to be on the other end of this sarcasm. Vs 10 He says that he that is faithful in the small things is faithful also in much. And he that is unjust in small things is also unjust in much. Generally speaking, if you can be trusted not to steal small things, a screw, a pen, etc., Then you can be trusted not to steal big things. And if we are careful to do everything right, even down to the smallest detail, then the big things will naturally be done right. But if we cannot be trusted even in the small things, if we steal screws and pens, then how can we be trusted in anything? We should not steal anything no matter how small it may seem. Not only is it stealing but these things grow, not necessarily into stealing bigger things but also in any other matters. If we allow one small thing it can grow into a bigger thing. And if you cannot be trusted even in a small matter how will someone trust you with larger things. Vs 11 "If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches." Can you be trusted with the things of this earth? Do you desire earthly riches and honor? Is this more important to you than God, so that you would set out to gain it by lies and deceit if nessisary? If so then don't think that God will entrust you with his true riches; his truth and righteousness. I think not! This is one of the reasons why there is no truth today, and with no truth, is no godly wisdom, no understanding, and no righteousness. These things are of far greater value than any earthly riches we could possibly gain. If we were to gain the whole world it could not compare to even a small portion of God's truth, and the true Joy it brings. I would rather have no worldy goods but have God's Truth. I would rather be considered the scum of the earth, to be able to have the honor of understanding, rather than have riches. These riches won't last, and honor from men means nothing. Vs 12 If you haven't been faithful with that which is another man's, (or Gods), then will he give you, or reward you, with something of your own? Vs 13 No servant can serve two masters, you cannot serve both God and mammon (or, the riches and honor of this world). God calls for nothing less than our full attention and care. This cannot be given to two masters at the same time. Also it would be impossible to serve these particular two masters efficiently, due to the fact that they have opposite requirements. One calls you to love filthy lucre, the other to hate covetousness. You will have to love the one and hate the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon. Vs 14 Says, "And the Pharisees also who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him." This confirms that this steward was indeed covetous. He pleased the people in order to have his needs met and also his pride inflated. He desired to be honored by men but was not concerned with the honour which God himself bestows. The Pharisees were not pleased to hear this, as they derided him. A true man of God will not be held up high by those who live such a sinful and hypocritical life, but he will be derided by them, as these Pharisees did Jesus. They will pick at the smallest thing, often not even knowing what they are saying; yet these hypocrites will allow big things that they do not even see as sinful. "Straining a gnat whilst swallowing a camel;" Vs 15, "And he said unto them, Ye are they, which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." And might I add, often that which is an abomination to the so called Christian is highly esteemed in the sight of God.
2 Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Believe it or not, we are living in this time of a great falling away. Wake up Pastor and Preacher! Wake up you that call yourself a Christian! For God will judge his people.