Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Priority of Faithfulness


First Corinthians 4:1-5: “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.”

One of the great emphases of the Apostle as he writes to the followers of Christ at Corinth is upon the trustworthiness of the God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ.

Paul declares that they worship a God who is faithful and dependable – First Corinthians 1:9 – “God is to be trusted the God who called you to have fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord”. He also declares that God can be depended upon to be with them in the midst of any trial or trouble that may befall them -“Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps His promise and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it and so provide you with a way out” (First Corinthians 10:13). He further encourages them to be zealous in service with the assurance that their labour for the faithful God will not go unrewarded - “So then, my dear brothers, stand firm and steady. Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless” (First Corinthians 15:58). 

This great emphasis on the faithfulness of God is more significant when one recognizes that each disciple is a servant of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God - “You should think of us as Christ’s servants, who have been put in charge of God’s secret truth” (First Corinthians 4:1). The mysteries of God are the great truths that God has chosen to reveal by means of His Holy Spirit. These mysteries, or truths, are those blessings from God that cannot be discovered by human reason or by the laboratory process. They are truths revealed by divine initiative. Paul considers himself, and he would consider each of us, as a steward of these mysteries.

A steward was a manager or a supervisor who had been entrusted with that which belongs to another. Stewards were highly trusted. At the same time, these stewards were limited in that they were not owners; they were managers.

Paul declares that the primary prerequisite for being a good steward is faithfulness, reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness. It is not required that a steward be brilliant or successful. It is required that each one be faithful. Faithfulness is the will of God for us. Faithfulness is possible for each of us.

Stewards Must be Faithful to God in the use of Time

Time is one of the gifts that God places at our disposal. Time is very precious. Time at its longest is very brief.

Time to Work: In the Old Testament, the plan was that man should work six days and earn his livelihood. He who has to work more than six days a week needs to either re-examine his methods or re-evaluate his goals.

Time to Rest: The Sabbath Day originally was a day for rest and relaxation. Every day was to be a day of worship, dedicated to God. The Sabbath Day was a day in which man was to be released from the routine and from the labour of earning his living in order that he might recreate the vital energies of life.

Time to Serve: Our Lord declared that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath is not an institution that is supposed to be a burden. Jesus violated the traditions surrounding the Sabbath in order that He might serve and minister to others. He who would find the highest possible joy in life must dedicate much of his time to being of service to the Lord and to others.

Stewards Must be Faithful in the Use of Talents

Our talents should be considered as the gifts of God to be used for His glory and for the joy and for the good of others. Talents must not be exploited merely for self-centered advancements. Every talent carries with it a responsibility God does not expect us to excel in the sense that we win the race and out achieve competitors. Our God has give us our talents to develop and to use if we would please Him we must be reliable and dependable in the use of the talents which He has endowed us with.

Stewards Must be Faithful to God in the Use of Treasure

Money represents life in the crystallized form. Money is stored up power and energy. Money can do wonderful things. It is God who gives us the power to get wealth. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 8:18: “Remember that it is the Lord your God who gives you the power to become rich; He does this because He is still faithful today to the covenant that He made with your ancestors”. God expects us to earn our money by honest and helpful means. God requires that we share our income with the work of His Kingdom. In the Old Testament the law required of the Israelites that they bring a tithe – one tenth of their income –  into the store house for the work of God. In the New Testament love requires that we put our total selves at the disposal of God. He who never learns to bring the tithe will find it exceedingly difficult to give his total self into the service of God.

Stewards Must Be Faithful to God in the Use of Trouble

Not all troubles and not all trials come to us by the ideal will of God. Some trouble comes to us because of our own selfishness or ignorance or foolishness. We can let trouble cause us to become bitter, hostile and rebellious. We can let trouble cause us to become discouraged, depressed and defeated. Paul declares that God will be at work in all things for good to those who love God and who are seeking to live out His purpose in their lives. (Romans 28:8) To be good stewards we must remember to be faithful to our Lord especially when trouble comes.

Stewards Must Be faithful To God in the Giving of Christian Testimony

To us has been committed a trusteeship with the mysteries of God – the great truths that God has revealed by means of His Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. We must use the language of our lives but merely to live a good life is not enough. We must use the language of our lips to communicate the divine concern and the wonder of the divine love. To be silent in the presence of great Spiritual need is inhuman, unnatural and unchristian.

It is not required that Stewards be naturally intelligent. It is not required that stewards be highly educated. It is not required that stewards be unusually clever. It is not required that stewards be innovative and creative. It is required that stewards be trustworthy, reliable, dependable and faithful
Each one of us has the capacity to be faithful and trustworthy.

God bless you all.

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