A Word We Need To Understand.!
Luke 16: 1-2
There is a word that we as Christians need to to truly understand.
That word is "steward."
Our English word "steward" in our Bible is from a Greek word, "oikonomos," which is made up
of two separate words.
The first is "oikos," which means " a house," and the second is the verb "nemo," which means "to arrange."
By putting those two words together, we learn that they mean that a steward is the arranger or manager
of a house or property.
Today, we might say that someone like that would be in charge of an estate, and he would usually be
in charge in the absence of the owner.
The word is also used of an employee who has charge of a table or other waiters in a restaurant,
or even of someone aboard a ship who waits on and it is responsible for the comfort of passengers.
But the word basically is the same: "a steward is in charge of property belonging to someone else."
The very concept of stewardship implies responsibility.
This is true whether the properties or other matters concerned are large or small.
Responsibility is the essence of stewardship.
We see this in the words of this parable that Jesus told:
" There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.
So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you?
Give an account of your management
'" (Luke 16:1-2)
The word translated " manager" is the Greek word "oikonomos" which provides for us
the spirit of the word.
The servant concerned was responsible.
In Luke 12:42 Jesus speaks of a "faithful and wise manager (oikonomos), the master puts in charge of his servants."
Here again, we are met with responsibility.
But here, we see a two-sided responsibility; the steward or manager was responsible to his master
and for his master's business.
He was not his own boss.
The goods or property which he managed were not his own.
Everything that passed through his management belonged to the one who had placed him in that position.
This lesson is plain and clear and teaches us our position as Christians.
The facts of Biblical stewardship resides in a right understanding of the Christian's relationship to God.
This is seen clearly in the words of Paul when he said is in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:
" You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your body."
Stewardship is an individual responsibility.
In 1 Peter 4:10 we read: "Each one should use what ever gifts he has received to serve others,
faithfully administrating God's grace in its various forms."
Every Christian has gifts for which he is responsible.
The believer who does not exercise his stewardship in the world and his responsibility in the church
is simply excusing himself from what God says is every Christian's responsibility.
There are no exceptions.
Any Christian who is leading a useless life is just plain lazy or is just plain disobedient.
He has buried his talents in the earth.
He has hidden his life under a bushel.
He is living a useless life when he should be a blessing to others.
A Christian who declares that he is unfit or that he does not have the ability to serve has no excuse.
God would see this as insufficient.
We learn from God's Word that our talent may be small, and we might think that it's so small,
and that it doesn't seem to matter where you use it or not.
Yet, who can say what is small or great in this life.
We also learn from Peter statement that every gift is an expression of
"God's grace in its various forms."
No talent or gift that we have is deserved and it is certainly not of our own making.
All gifts that we have are given to us freely by God's unmerited favor.
Paul says it very clearly in 1 Corinthians 4:7:
"What do you have that you did not receive?
And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?"
The words are so clear that they cannot be misunderstood.
Make a list of all the talents, gifts, and abilities you possess.
Then, erase all those you did not receive as a result of God's free, unmerited generosity.
If you're honest about this list, the entire list will remain.
God's grace comes in "various forms."
Everybody doesn't have the same gifts, talents, or abilities.
In 1 Corinthians 12:29-30: " Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?
Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?."
The answer is "No"!
Christians vary in their gifts as much as in their temperaments -- but all have some gifts.
And every Christian is responsible to exercise those gifts, and they are accountable to God to do so.
When Daniel Webster was asked what was the most important subject that had ever occupied
His answer was, "My personal responsibility."
Every Christian should feel that sense of responsibility.
We must remember that "each one of us will give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:12)
We must not envy, be jealous, or be covetous in regard to anyone else's gifts.
Every gift is given by God's grace, and we should be thankful and rejoice for our gifts.
Someone has said that "Our concern is to be with the use of God's gifts, not with their distribution."
This is an inescapable responsibility.
No Christian has the right to say, "I am honored to be a child of God.
I am thrilled to be a saint and happy to be a soldier, but I do not wish to be a steward."
No Christian has that option.
We cannot be excused from our responsibility to make use of the gifts that God has given us.
Remember, that Jesus, just before His ascension into heaven gave His disciples this command:
"And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to all the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
This is not an option.
The disciples were not told that they could be Christ's witnesses, or they might be.
The statement was imperative -- "You will be
Today, every Christian has that same responsibility.
We are to be a witness of the gospel of the Lord Jesus.
We are stewards by the very fact that we have been saved, and the only question is whether
we will be a good steward or a bad one.
Privilege and responsibility are two sides of one coin.
To be a steward is a great privilege, but it is also a great responsibility.
Let us look at some things of which we are to be stewards.
First, there is the stewardship of time.
Ephesians 5: 15-16: " Be very careful, then, how you live -- not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."
The Greek verb of the phrase, "making the most of every opportunity," literally means, "to buy out."
This comes from the marketplace and is the kind of word you might use about someone
buying up an entire stock.
In this phrase, Paul is emphazing that Christians must recognize the fact that time is a precious commodity
which should be used to its fullest capacity.
Thomas Edison once said, "Time is not a commodity that can be stored for future use.
It must be invested hour by hour or else is gone forever."
Every Christian should follow this pattern concerning the stewardship of his time.
Then, there is the stewardship of leisure.
This is often overlooked when thinking of the stewardship of time, but it is vitally important.
There are those who might think that a Christian should never take a complete rest or a vacation,
but should use it for some specific evangelistic activity, such as beach services,
a youth camp, tract distribution, or door-to-door visitation.
One Christian protested that there was a time when it was right to take a rest.
The other Christian replied, " Certainly not. Look at the devil. He never takes a rest."
The first Christian replied,
"Why should we believe that a Christian should follow the devil's example?"
A very wise man once said: "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven."
Without a doubt there is a time for sensible rest, change, and recreation.
Jesus made this clear when He invited His disciples: "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place
and get some rest." (Mark 6:31)
We need to notice that Jesus said this at a time when "many people were coming and going."
It was while they were surrounded by people who were in great physical and spiritual need
that Jesus withdrew His disciples for a break to recharge their energy.
In today's world, the use of a leisure doesn't come easy.
The pace of life is getting faster all the time, and people are finding it more and more difficult to use
their leisure time wisely, even though the amount of time available to them is gradually increasing.
Vance Havner told a story of two people who discovered that their home towns were fairly close
to each other.
One of them said, "You know, I used to visit your town once a week back
in the horse and buggy days.
It took me the whole day to get there and back, but I enjoyed it.
I could do it in half an hour now by car, but I just don't have the time."
Many of us have said or heard the expression, "I just don't have the time," so many times.
That is so strange to say because we all have exactly the same amount of time.
Everyone of us has twenty-four hours in every day.
The important question is how do we use it.
Christians must make a specific assessment of his or her leisure time in the total stewardship
of his or her time.
Do you think that a Christian is investing his leisure time wisely if he spends hour after hour,
night after night, in front of a television set?
There is something pathetic when people everywhere are allowing a TV screen to dictate their thinking process
for 25% of their waking hours.
In this amount of time, they are soaking their minds in politics and soap operas, and sports, and commercials.
Someone has calculated that by the time the average child is 14 years old, he will have seen 18,000 people
assaulted or killed on television.
By the time he leaves school, he will have seen 350,000 commercials, and, all in all, will spend 10 years
of his life watching television.
This is just too much.
In terms of a Christian's stewardship of time, it is criminal and sinful.
Now I am not putting down television.
Television is not wrong in itself.
It is something that God has allow man to discover and develop, but it should be used to enrich our lives.
Television can be a great educator, and in current affairs, history, travel, nature,
and in many other areas.
It is also a wonderful entertainer as in the fields of comedy, sport, music, and other things.
But for many Christians, it has been robbing them of so much and giving them so little.
We must not allow television to rob us of our time that should be spent more wisely.
We should examine our leisure time as part of our stewardship, and look upon it as something that God
has given us to enrich our lives.
We should plan it sensibly, and then enjoy it.
Then there is the stewardship of money.
And when money is mentioned, many people start getting restless and start to think that
"Here he goes again."
When you read the Old Testament, you can read of the building of the great temple in Jerusalem about 1000 B.C.
King David gave his son, Solomon directions and plans for the building of the temple.
Then, David charged the people of Israel with the responsibility of raising the vast amount of money needed.
In an amazing demonstration of generosity and sacrifice, a sum equaling many millions of dollars
was given, and this happened without a single rummage sale, lottery, or bingo games.
We read in 1 Chronicles 29:9 that they gave "freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord."
Of course, David was delighted at this tremendous response and gathered the people together
to praise the Lord.
In his prayer he said: "Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?
Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand."
This is a fundamental principle that underlies the whole question of the stewardship of money
and of everything else.
Even if we were to give everything we possessed, we would have given nothing that was not God's gift to us
in the first place.
This should put all our financial giving in its true Biblical perspective.
For instance, take the question of tithing.
Assuming that a Christian, on reading God's Word, comes to the conclusion that he should give
at least one-tenth of his gross income directly to God's service, this does not mean that the remaining
nine-tenths is his to do with as he pleases.
Remember, the principle is that one-tenth of his money belongs to the Lord,
and that he is also responsible to the Lord for the use of the other nine-tenths.
When we understanding that, we should be asking ourselves some serious questions about the amount
of money we spend on clothing, or dvd's, or food, or sport, or entertainment, or for other things.
So we must ask ourselves, " Are we giving to God what is right -- or what is left?
Does God come first in our stewardship of money?"
Someone has said: "Unconsecrated Christian giving is the greatest hindrance to Christian progress."
That is something serious to consider.
It does hinder progress in the spiritual life of the Christian concerned because God has promised
blessing to the giver.
So, it would hinder progress in Christian work which so often has to struggle along from week to week
because of the lack of funds.
Where do you stand in this regard?
Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?
Then, there is the stewardship of our special gifts.
In Luke 12:48 Jesus said: "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded;
and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
This is an important principle because Jesus is telling us that our responsibility as a Christian steward
exactly matches the gifts that He has given us.
I read of a testimony of a young man who became blind through his illness.
He did live to a ripe old age, and just before he died, he prayed,
"I think thee, Father, for the gift of blindness."
This was the prayer of Louis Braille, who invented the most widely-used blind reading system in the world.
If he could say that about his blindness, what about the person with eyes that can see, has good health,
and many other precious gifts?
Some have the gift of friendship.
Some have the gift of communication.
Some have the gift of hospitality.
Some have the gift of nurturing.
Some have the gift of encouragement.
Some have the gift of organization.
Some have the gift of administration.
Some have the gift of leadership.
Some have the gift of music.
Some have the gift of writing.
The list is endless, and so is the need for all these gifts to be used in the church today.
You must remember that your day job is more than just earning a living.
You must see your secular work in the same light as your "Christian" service.
Your everyday life is part of the total stewardship of life, and for which you are answerable to God
for those gifts that you have been given.
The ability to work is God-given, and to use that gift honorably and efficiently is part
of the Christian's responsibility and stewardship.
Whatever your particular gifts are, God can use them for the building of His kingdom,
the building of His church, the blessing of His people, the conversion of sinners,
and the glory of His name.
We have a clear command in God's Word in 1 Timothy 4:14: "Do not neglect your gift."
We have a stewardship to share the gospel.
Every Christian has this responsibility.
Not every Christian is called to be a preacher, teach a Bible class, serve as a missionary,
or take a position of leadership in the local church, but every Christian has been called
and commanded to share in evangelizing the world.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:1: "So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ,
and as those entrusted with the secret things of God."
The gospel has been given to us has a sacred trust.
Can you say that you are a good steward of "the secret things of God?"
If every other member of our church does as much as you do to reach people with the gospel,
would our church be building an extension or would we be closing down?
Someone said it like this: "To be 'in Christ' is to be involved.
You do not choose to be in the ministry of bringing people to Jesus Christ.
When you receive Christ as your Saviour, you entered the ministry of bringing people to Christ.
You may shrink from it, refuse to do it, but you are never excused from the duty and responsibility of it.
Are you a faithful steward of the gospel?
In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, one principle stands out very clearly.
That principle is that God will grant eternal rewards to His people according to their stewardship.
In the parable, the man who had been given five talents and the man who had been given two talents
are both rewarded with the words of their master: "Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things." (Matthew 25:21, 23)
Every Christian should seek to be a wise and trustworthy steward of all that God has given him or her.
We should long for the day when we hear our heavenly Father say: "Well done."
I read a story about a medical student who took a First Class Honors Degree at Edinburg University, in Scotland.
His friends speculated about his future.
Would he go on to earn further degrees, get a professorship, or achieve great things in some other way?
To their astonishment, he announced that he was going to the foreign mission field to serve God.
They were stunned that he would throw away such tremendous prospects for the mission field.
Their comments to him was, "But that is no way to get on in the world."
His reply was simple and unanswerable: "Which world?"
To be a good steward in God's sight is infinitely more important than to be a great success
in the sight of the world, and the rewards are beyond comparison.
Give Of Your Best To The Master
"Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth.
Throw your soulís fresh, glowing ardor
Into the battle for truth.
Jesus has set the example,
Dauntless was He, young and brave.
Give Him your loyal devotion;
Give Him the best that you have.
Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart.
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave.
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.
Give of your best to the Master;
Naught else is worthy His love.
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sinís ruin to save.
Give Him your heartís adoration;
Give Him the best that you have.
Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth.
Clad in salvation's full armor,
Join in the battle for truth.
By Barnard, 1864
Sermon has been adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White