Stewardship (Part 2)

"Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:14-15)

At all times, in all places, we are called to be faithful...period.  Are you reliable?  Trustworthy?  Constant?  Are you steady in your allegiance to God Almighty?  The most difficult aspect of being faithful is the connotation of time.  To be consistent over a very long period of time (i.e. forever) is a daunting task.  Thankfully by God's amazing, never-ending grace can we continue on as His offspring.  The more and more we are found faithful in God's eyes, the more and more He will entrust to us.  What an awesome thought process.  Our Heavenly Father desires to trust us with His blessings.  Wow!  As was discussed in Stewardship (part 1), if we truly acknowledge God in everything, then we ought to have the perspective that all things we have in our possession are of the Lord.  James 1:17 tells us that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."  One of the important things to remember, is that this includes both material and immaterial resources.  More often than not, people will tend to think of our possessions or resources in terms of money.  That is simply the society that we live in.  This is why God speaks to finances in the Bible quite often.

In the parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16), this individual was being "let go" for wasting his master's possessions.  We don't know specifically what he had done wrong, but regardless, the word "wasteful" was used.  The financial obligations that this man was put in charge of were wasted.  Therefore, the result was termination.  Not having the ability to work for himself, find another job, and too full of pride to beg, he decided on a plan of action.  According to Luke 16:8, the manager acted shrewdly in order to collect the debts owed his master.  However, he decided to forgive a portion of the debt in order that the people may receive him in to their homes if he were to be in need.  It was for this that he was commended.

The ultimate take-away from this parable is that when we are given responsibility over other's possessions, we are not to squander or act selfishly as if these things belong to us.  The idea of being a "manager" for the Lord is for the sole benefit of others!  God entrusts us with money not so that we can live lavishly, but to use those finances to benefit others.  God does not entrust us with the breath in our lungs so we can simply breathe easy, but rather so we can live a life that is honoring to Him.  We are called not only to take care of what God has entrusted to us, but to manage those things properly for the glory of the Lord, and to bring others to a better realization of Him.
"No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." (Luke 16:13)

As faithful stewards in God's kingdom, it is imperative that we yield all rights, time, talents, and treasures to God for His glory and others benefits.  One of my favorite passages of scripture comes from Proverbs 21 which eloquently states, "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will."  Have you ever been white water rafting?  If so, then this verse should make perfect sense.  When the water is calm and flowing every so gently, there is no greater sense of peace that one can experience.  However, when you are about to go through a class 4 rapid, your heart rate begins to climb, and your knuckles turn white as you grip the oar as tight as you can.  There are times when you just have to hang on for dear life and hope that you make it through.  You may even get completely engulfed by the rapids and tossed overboard, or you come out the other side, still in the boat, with a sense of exhilaration and pride.  Whatever the case may be, if you've followed your river guides instructions, whether you're in the boat or in the river, there is a greater chance of survival.  All because you yielded to the will of your instructor who better understands the river than you do.

This life is not about you!  Everything that you are, and everything that you go through is for His glory and the benefit of others.  Queen Esther realized this concept perfectly in her life.  She eventually came to the realization that her life was not her own.  In going before the king to try to save her people, she stated, "If I perish, I perish."  (Esther 4:16)  God has put us all here "for such a time as this" (I highly recommend reading the story of Esther in regards to yielding to God's plan).  We must be willing to yield to our Lord as America's forefather's did for this country.  We must pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor in service and dedication to His plan, not our own.

In the end, we need to consider ourselves a freedman in the service of the Lord.  We've been set free to serve.  As we strive to be Christ-like, we need to emulate Jesus as He lived His life.  Mark 10:45 says, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  We are God's bond-servants.  A faithful servant who yields his life for the sake of his master's will.

Next up: Guarding our relationships and Articulating our faith in Jesus Christ.

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