The Master of Stewardship

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians  4 : 1-4
Subject: Stewardship; Giving; Materialism; Monday; Lordship
Series: The Happy Giver
Introduction

It is important when thinking on the subject of stewardship to remember that stewardship is more than money, it involves Lordship. God made all things and all things belong to Him. If you do not believe that, just wait till you leave this world and watch how much of this world's goods you leave behind - all of them. You brought nothing into this world and you can be certain that you will take nothing out of it.

My son-in-law, who pastors First Baptist Church, Cherryville, N.C., recently said in a sermon on stewardship, “What do you think will happen to your possessions when you this world? Think “Estate Sale!”

I am reminded of the story of a man who was a miser all his life. He would give his wife so little money that it was very difficult for her to even maintain things around the home. The time came when the miser got sick and the doctor told him to prepare to die. He called his wife in and told her he wanted to take his money with him. He asked her to place the money in a box in the attic so he could catch it on his way to heaven. Well, the day came and the old miser died. His wife was broken hearted over his death, for even though he was so difficult to live with she had loved him very much. A couple days after the funeral she remember the money in the box upstairs. She ran up there to check on it and, low and behold, there it was still in the box. She cried out, "O George, my sweet George, I knew we should have placed the money in the basement."

Well, apparently she knew better where he was going than George did! The truth is, no matter which way George went, he wasn't taking his money, his old body, his cars, his house, or anything else with him. Remembering this point helps us to prepare our hearts to look at the subject, "The Master of Stewardship."

Turn to 1 Corinthians 4 and look with me at verses 1-4. Here we see that a steward is required to be faithful. In Luke 16 Jesus begins a parable by pointing out that He is the Master and we are the stewards. One day we are going to be called upon to give an account for our stewardship. I want you to see three things on this subject this morning.

I. The Honor Given to Us

God has bestowed great honor upon us as His children. He loves us and grants to us certain privileges. Let's look at just three of them.

A. The Grace He has Given

He has given us His grace. 1 Corinthians 15:9-10, "For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."

One of the best gifts God has ever given to anyone is the gift of grace. You do know, don’t you, that you were not saved through works or deeds that you have done? God has bestowed honor upon us by granting us saving grace. If for some reason you have reached out to take this gift, it is available to those who will confess with the mouth that He is Lord and believe in the heart that He is risen from the dead. You can turn from you sins, and you are a sinner! You can place your faith in Jesus Christ. You can receive grace.

How wonderful that God has shown us grace and even when we did not deserve it, He chose to bestow His love on us.

B. The Gifts He has Given

Then, when we receive His grace, He supplied something more to those of us who are saved – much more! When you and I became Christians, God us gifts so that we might serve Him. We read in Ephesians 4:8, "This is why it says: 'When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.'"

Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection, then sent the Holy Spirit to bestow spiritual gifts on all who trust Christ as Savior. The gift of eternal life. The gift of joy. The gift of power. The gifts of the Spirit to do His work. Look at 1 Corinthians 12:4- 7, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." Each one, everyone, all believers have at least one spiritual gift. In other words, God has blessed us with spiritual blessings.

This does not even take into account all the other blessings, gifts if you please, given to us. Gifts of health, mind, income, relationships, etc. We are blessed in thousands of ways with the gifts that come to us, and these gifts are accentuated in the life of the child of God.

C. The Governance He has Given

Then, add to this the gift of freewill. You do have a right to make a fool out of yourself by not doing the will of God. Read Ephesians 5:17, "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." God grants us the right to make decisions about our lives and about His will. He longs for us to obey so He can bless us, but He allows us to make the decision.

The truth is that being a steward is a great honor. In life, only the very best and most trusted people are given the task of being over the goods of another. God gives us this privilege as recipients of His salvation. He has honored us by making us stewards in His kingdom.

Most of the time we start out thinking about stewardship in terms of responsibility. Yet, the truth is, stewardship begins at the point of privilege!

II. The Holiness Expected from Us

In the light of the privileges God has given us, we are called to be faithful stewards. That is what our text today states very clearly. It is required among stewards that one be found faithful. Let’s look at some elements of being faithful stewards.

A. Accountability

As stewards, we are accountable to God. Now listen closely, it is not a matter of what you think about being a steward but rather it is a matter of what the Master says about your stewardship.

1. For example, we are accountable for our bodies. "Do you not know that your body is the temple of God?" You and I don't have a right to do with our bodies as we like. We must ask Him what is correct for us because we are accountable to Him with the actions taken in our bodies.

2. We are accountable for our speech. "Every idle word will be judged." Think about that statement. We are told to season our speech with salt, which means to say things that heal, preserve, and that season the flavor of life for others. Salty language became a term of evil speech because often sailors spoke very coarsely. But the idea of salty speech to a Christian, is speech which uplifts, which praises, which shares love, which talks of the grace of God.

3. We are accountable for our abilities. Some of us are more gifted than others and to whom much is given much is required! We will answer to God for what we have done with the abilities God has given us.

4. We are accountable with our time. "Redeem the time for the days are evil." Time is a great gift and each day God gives us on this earth is a gift! We are to use our time wisely and to bless Him with each hour and each day.

5. And, yes, we are accountable to God with our tithes and offerings - our income. When we think about money we need to remember that the tithe already belongs to the Lord. In Malachi we read that the people had robbed God because they had kept the tithe for themselves. The tithe does not belong to you – it belongs to God. The first ten percent of all you earn belongs to God. This ten percent if to be considered as His before you pay any bills. Give God what is rightfully His because you and I are accountable to God for our financial blessings. Then, you should give gifts above your tithe. Let me tell you something very important - you will one day regret more than words can tell what you have done if you fail to remain faithful in this matter. For I believe that at the judgment, you will see what your tithe could have done to save souls, to feed the hungry, to bless the prisoner, to heal the sick, to clothe the unclothed, to provide for those God has called to give their lives to His work. When the Bible says that in heaven one day He will dry all our tears, it may well be the tears of saints who have kept back from God that which His,  and by doing so doomed many to destruction.

B. Dependability

Dependability speaks of our faithfulness to God and His ability to count on us at all times to be dedicated servants. I often think about Jesus on the night He was betrayed. What a difficult night that must have been. Judas, one of His own, was selling Him for thirty pieces of silver. I wonder how many others have sold out the Lord for silver and gold. Then, His disciples slept while in prayed in agony. He had asked them to watch with Him, but they slept. I wonder how many have slept when they called upon to be faithful to Jesus. Then Peter denied the Lord. I wonder how many have denied Him through silence in front of their friends. What a horrible time this was for Jesus, yet still today people sell Him out for money, sleep when He needs them, deny Him in a hateful, cruel world because they want to be popular. Oh, Christian, let us be dependable! One day we will give an account of our stewardship!

C. Availability

We must be available for whatever the Master desires. He may call upon us for anything. He is calling upon some of you to work in Judgment House, some of you to enter the prayer ministry with us, some of you to help us with childcare during the 11:00 o'clock worship service, some of us to give to the Chest of Joash and all of us to give a public witness for Him in this world. Will we sell Him out, sleep through the request, deny His voice, or will we answer with Isaiah, Here am I Lord, send me - send me!

III. The Help Provided for Us

We are called upon to give our best to the Master, but we cannot do anything for Him in ourselves alone. That is why He has promised to meet our needs when we put Him first. "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these other things will be added unto you." He gives us the help we need. He has clearly told us, "Without me you can do nothing." He did not say that we could do a little without Him; He said we can do nothing without Him.

A. The Scriptures Instruction

We do not have to guess at His will, for His Word instructs us. True, we do not live by the Law, but I say with Chrysostom of long ago, "It is a shame when we allow people to do more under the Law for God than we will do under grace." Let us study the Word and let us obey it. Not because it is a Law, but because we love Him who first loved us!

B. The Spirit's Indwelling

He has given us His Spirit to help us. He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us. He can empower us to do what we cannot do without Him. He can give us the ability to stand for Him when we are weak in ourselves. He can give you strength to serve when you are tired and weary. He can give you who think you have so little all that is needed – that which is far beyond your own ability.

Conclusion

Almost everyone in this worship service today has experienced the death of a loved one. When someone very close to you dies, the first thought many people have is, “Did I do all I could have done?” We will think of the occasions when we might have called, visited or spent more time with our family member or friend who is gone. There is a lot of guilt regarding this issue, and as a pastor I have heard it expressed by many who stood beside a casket. If you think that is something to regret, imagine meeting the Lord face-to-face, all the while knowing that you were an unfaithful steward of His grace, love, and gifts in your life! Today is the day to renew our dedication to our Lord. He went all the way to the cross for us – let us go all the way in the matter of stewardship for Him! That is the least we can do and the best we can do for our Lord.