“The Faithful Steward Is Faithful In Living”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS McCARTHY

18th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

 

Title: “The Faithful Steward Is Faithful In Living

 

Text: 1 Corinthians 4: 1-2

“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God, moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

 

Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30.

 

Once, a man said, “If I had some extra money, I’d give it to God, but I have just enough to support myself and my family.” And the same man said, “If I had some extra time, I’d give it to God, but every minute is taken up with my job, my family, my clubs, and what have you and me every single minute.” And the same man said, “If I had a talent I’d give it to God, but I have no lovely voice; I have no special skill; I’ve never been able to lead a group; I can’t think cleverly or quickly, the way I would like to.”

And God was touched, and although it was unlike him, God gave that man money, time, and a glorious talent. And then He waited, and waited, and waited…..And then after a while, He shrugged His shoulders, and He took all those things right back from the man, the money, the time and the glorious talent. After a while, the man sighed and said, “If I only had some of that money back, I’d give it to God. If I only had some of that time, I’d give it to God. If I could only rediscover that glorious talent, I’d give it to God.”

And God said, “Oh, shut up.”

And the man told some of his friends, “You know, I’m not so sure that I believe in God anymore.”  

This story depicts a person who wishes he or she could be a good steward for God if entrusted with wealth or time.  Well God blesses him with wealth and time. He does not dispense the wealth and time responsibly. God takes it back and he wishes he could get it back and use it this time.  In our scripture reading we read about the parable of Jesus where our Lord compares the kingdom of God to a faithful steward. This parable of Jesus is referred to as the Parable of the Talents.  It speaks about the fact that faithfulness in stewardship comes about when we use what God has given us for the betterment of His kingdom. God has given each one of us different gifts and talents.  One man is given five talents, another man two, and to another man one. It is not the talents given to man that matters; what matters is how one uses the talents he gets from God. God will not demand from us abilities which we do not have.  God however demands us to use the abilities we have to the fullest. We are not equal in the talents we possessed; but we can be equal in the efforts put in. Jesus Christ is telling us that whatever talents we have, great or small, we must lay it at the service of God.  In our obligations as Christians, we must use the talents and resources God has given us to live faithful lives.

Our text this morning is from Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth.  In chapter 4 verses 1 and 2, Paul here tells the believers at Corinth that they are stewards of the things God wants to reveal to His people.  As stewards of God’s mystery, it is important to live faithfully. The word Paul uses for a steward is the Greek word oikonomos.  This word means a person who is a manager of a property, an overseer, a treasurer.  A steward is one who is working in the interest of another person. Proverbs 25:13 says of a steward, “As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is the faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.”  So a steward should be a person who is faithful in working in the interest of his master. He does the work given to him according to how he was instructed or ordered. Being a steward of God is doing exactly as God had ordered. This will involve accountability on our part.  Being accountable is being trustworthy.

The New American Standard Bible (NASB) used the word trustworthy in verse 2 of 2 Corinthians 4.  Jesus uses stewardship as a metaphor of how the kingdom of God operates. God owns everything. Psalms 24:1 informs us that “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.  God is the ultimate owner of all that is. He created and sustains the world; the world answers to God. Both Old and New Testament statements constantly reminds us that God holds the title of the ownership of all the world.  We belong to God. The parable in our Scripture lesson reminds us that our lives are a sacred trust from God. Paul reminds the Corinthians that we belong to God because of Christ’s redemption. In those beautiful words, Paul says, “You are not your own; you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 RSV). God also gave us the land. If we understand that the work God has given us on earth has a religious meaning, we will understand that people work with God for His glory. Earning a living through the work we do is endowed with a sacred meaning.  If we work as a doctor, or nurse, or athlete, we work to glorify God. Man’s purpose in life is to serve God. In serving God, we care for the earth, for the people of the earth just to glorify God. Glorifying God is living in such relationship to God within creation that we reflect His own holiness back to Him.  We do this through serving and worshipping. This is living faithfully.

Man’s purpose in life is to serve God.  Since God created everything, Life is focused on God.  Since God is my creator, my life must be lived in terms of God’s purpose for us.  This requires that I constantly look up to Him to get my bearings. I am not my own to do as I will with my life.  Freedom is never the license to do as I please, but it is rather liberation from my bondage so that I can fulfill the task for which God created me.  So then the ultimate purpose of living is to care for the earth, care for the people, and to glorify God.

When we are faithful stewards we will translate all of life into personal terms.  Faith in God and humanity endows God’s creation with a personal character.

Humankind is masters over all things.   This makes us trustees under God over nature.  We are servants of God and masters of nature. We have a measure of sovereignty over nature as he has total sovereignty over all. We express this sovereignty by serving God.  In this light, stewards of God live by faith.

It is important that the faithful steward is faithful in living.  If this is correct, then the faithful steward must live by faith and not by sight.  Paul reminded the Corinthians, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Looking at this reminder, we learn that life faces many uncertainties. The parable of the stewards laid stress on that uncertainty.  Two of the stewards face their uncertainty by faith; the other rejected faith. Faithful Christian stewards are able to face the uncertainty of tomorrow because of the strength of their religious convictions in today’s world.  Living involves making sacrifices for God and our humankind.. We take risk to take care of God’s creation. We take risks to show others love. This is all done to glorify God.

The story is told of how one stormy night an elderly couple entered the lobby of a small hotel and asked for a room. The clerk said they were filled, as were all the hotels in town. “But I can’t send a fine couple like you out in the rain,” he said. “Would you be willing to sleep in my room?” The couple hesitated, but the clerk insisted. The next morning when the man paid his bill, he said, “You’re the kind of man who should be managing the best hotel in the United States. Someday I’ll build you one.” The clerk smiled politely. A few years later the clerk received a letter from the elderly man, recalling that stormy night and asking him to come to New York. A round-trip ticket was enclosed. When the clerk arrived, his host took him to the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th Street, where stood a magnificent new building. “That,” explained the man, “is the hotel I have built for you to manage.” The man was William Waldorf Astor, and the hotel was the original Waldorf-Astoria. The young clerk, George C. Boldt, became its first manager.  

Faithful stewards are always commended for being faithful.  Faithful stewards live by faith. This means their life is determined by their convictions about God and humanity and the world.  This means they are willing to face uncertainty future and take risks of faith by serving others.  

Our inability to take the risk of faith renders us incapable of being stewards.  Stewardship is synonymous with management. God has entrusted us with certain abilities, talents, possessions, and time.  Life consists of the management of those for God’s glory and humankind usefulness. The steward condemned in Jesus’ parable was condemned because he refused to take the risk of faith.  He rejected the essence of life. He was condemned for unbelief. All of judgment comes to bear on this theme of stewardship. John tells us, “He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18 RSV).  

W. Wiersbe told a story of a stormy night in Birmingham, England, where Hudson Taylor was to speak at a meeting at the Severn Street schoolroom. His hostess assured him that nobody would attend on such a stormy night, but Taylor insisted on going. “I must go even if there is no one but the doorkeeper.” Less than a dozen people showed up, but the meeting was marked with unusual spiritual power. Half of those present either became missionaries or gave their children as missionaries; and the rest were faithful supporters of the China Inland Mission for years to come. If we live faithfully, God will be glorify and our rewards are assured.

A baseball player once indicated that his ambition in life was to hear his coach say at the time of the player’s retirement, “You are the best baseball player I have ever coach.” How much more should we Christians live our lives with the joyful expectation and determination that at the end of the journey God will say to us, “You have been faithful.” Bankers must be honest; soldiers must be brave; runners must be swift; weightlifters must be strong; stewards must be faithful.  God bless you.