Faithful Stewardship – 1 Corinthians 4:2

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. – 1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV

If you are familiar with church-speak, when you hear someone talk about stewardship, it is likely that the first thing that crosses your mind is tithing. In this usage, stewardship means giving the church a portion of your salary or other income. But stewardship is actually much more than that. If you read the story of Joseph, in particular Genesis 39:2-7, you would see a good example of what stewardship is. Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his household, and Joseph then managed it for Potiphar. A steward was just that, a person entrusted with the possessions of another to manage it on their behalf. And stewardship is executing the responsibilities of a steward. A good steward is one who is faithful to the trust given them by their master / employer.

In this verse Paul is talking about his stewardship of the mysteries that God had entrusted him with. But the application is broader than that. If you are a believer, a member of the body of Christ, then you have been entrusted in some way to serve both God and the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7-11). My stewardship is as a teacher. Yours is likely is some other area. But what is most important for each of us is that we prove faithful to our Lord. I would encourage you to faithfully execute the responsibilities of your stewardship. If you do, you will receive the Master’s commendation (Matt. 25:21).

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Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant – Matthew 25:21

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy.’ – Matthew 25:21 CSB

In the parable of the talents, the master entrusted his servants with some money to invest. Ultimately he called on them to give an account of their stewardship. Those who had invested wisely were rewarded, while the one who did not was punished. So what do we learn from this parable? I believe it is another of ‘the kingdom of heaven is like’ parables; Jesus is illustrating something about the kingdom to us. What do we do with what he has given us?

What has God entrusted you with? It might be physical resources, time, or abilities, whether natural or spiritual giftedness; all that we are and have ultimately comes from him. Are we faithful stewards of what God has entrusted us with, investing wisely in the work of the kingdom? Or are we neglectful, investing poorly? Will we be given additional responsibilities in the life to come, sharing in the master’s joy? Or will we suffer loss?

When I stand before my Lord someday, I long to hear him say to me, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy.’

Answerable To the Master – 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. – 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NIV

While Paul is talking here about himself and the other apostles, I believe this passage is very applicable to all of us who profess to follow Jesus as our Lord.  He is my master, and I am his servant.  It is too often easy to forget that and assume a more familiar relationship.  And indeed, Jesus does call us his friends; but the relationship is not what I have with a buddy.  He is still Lord and God, and I need to live in obedience to him.

As a servant, Paul had been entrusted with the mysteries of God.  The wording here is that of a steward, a trusted servant who is given responsibility for some part of the master’s belongings.  While I have not been entrusted with the mysteries of God like Paul had, I have nonetheless been entrusted with a task by God, as have each of us who serve him.  I have been entrusted with faithfully representing God in this world, as well as to disciple other believers in His word.  Others of you have been entrusted with other tasks; tasks that help to build up the body of Christ.

But, all who have been entrusted must prove faithful, and will give answer to the Master at the end; see the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. In the passage above, Paul makes it clear that the judgement of others on my stewardship doesn’t matter.  Nor does it ultimately matter how I judge my performance, although it would be good for me to have a clear conscience concerning it.  The judgement that ultimately matters is what comes from the one who assigned me with the task.

In whatever God has entrusted you with, do your best to present yourself to him as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed.  And one who looks forward to hearing his master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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