Freedom and Stewardship

A Word to Consider - Freedom and Stewardship
by Bill NeSmith

     If the very word ‘Stewardship’ brings back memories of building programs and capital campaigns, I ask that you read further to see that this word means so much more.  If we understand it properly it can be a defining strength, a stabilizing balance, an immovable counterweight to the weaknesses of our human soul.  Stewardship is an administration, a message, a vision, a walk of life not for the purpose of giving but as the direct result of a close relationship with God as King.  A Christian who finds stewardship as a result of finding Freedom is an unstoppable force that will change the world around him.  Stewardship is a handoff – as if God were speaking through you.

     Yes, basically stewardship is the tending to and distribution of assets and resources given.  For the Christian, this is foremost related to all which God has given to us in anointing, environment, release, and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

     Stewardship as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is:

the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially, the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care <stewardship of natural resources>

 

Freedom from Pride and Vainglory

     The Apostle Paul carries this idea further with this verse from The Message Bible:

For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn't everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what's the point of all this comparing and competing?’  (1 Cor. 4:7)

     For a real blessing, read 1 Cor. 4:1-7 from the Message. Humility and brotherly love are keys to balancing a sense of responsibility with an expression of God’s loving character.  Pride will get involved if you start to believe that disagreement is an edict on your own personal worth.  When you start to focus on yourself rather than on those who God wants to reach, then pride has started to rise.  A steward simply knows that if he himself properly understands the job, then the outcome is not on his shoulders but will ultimately be sorted out by his master. 

As was discussed in an earlier writing, regarding freedom and leadership, true freedom comes when one understands his place in the equation or process as related to the operation of God’s will.  The process of stewardship is void of preference or personal opinion.

For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.

After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.”  (Matthew 25:14, 19)

These two verses come from the Parable of the Talents that defines a commissioning, a stewarding, and an accounting of results with ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord’, or the removal of what was at first committed to them.  Stewardship is important. This parable from chapter 25 of Matthew’s gospel was spoken to explain the operation of Christianity/Stewardship in this age of grace.  We as Christians have been made stewards of God’s plan of salvation, i.e. making disciples and kingdom expansion, and one day there will be a conversation about the worth and work of our hands. 

 

Responsibility

     The Christian church, in many ways, has allowed itself to enter into the fray of opinion and counter position...as if one group is meant to oppose or stand against another.  This division has developed within the Church just as it has in the rest of the world because we have lost sight of our Stewardship.  Stewardship is above the group-to-group divisions that exist today because it is simply the management distribution of truth, property, and of purpose as defined by the One who charged them with the responsibility to begin with.

     Spiritual freedom can only be found in being released from division and strife that is driven and fed be a belief that you are called to defend a truth or position rather than simply communicate it.  God's truth does not need to be defended but simply communicated. 

     Many wars and mistakes throughout history have taken place because people see themselves as having to defend a position or preference and thus step into human confidence or fear as they evaluate the success of that defense.

     Today, every spiritual and Biblical position known to man is being contended for, defended, and argued about as if the character and reputation of the one speaking is being questioned.  We cannot defend and be affected by those who do not receive our communication.

     As Christians we are not called to squabble amongst ourselves or defend our message. We are called to understand and communicate truth found in the Word of God as His stewards of the message, the mission, and the lost.  Stewards are completely free when they learn that it is not their job to defend but to simply communicate God's plan and spiritual truths.

     If our message is not received, we are told to simply dust off our feet and move to those who will listen, heed and follow.  Doing this prevents strife and vain arguments that can ultimately tarnish the Christ-like character in which we are to walk.

 

Outcome

     The Apostle Paul gives us one of the most liberating truths of scripture which contains the detailed explanation of how cooperation and responsibility interact.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”   (1 Cor. 3:6 Compared)

     Paul was confident in who he was and was also not intimidated or confused by the fact that he could not do all things, nor was he supposed to.  No matter what we do, God gives the increase.

     Not knowing our own identity can lead to our greatest internal struggles that occur because we as stewards have lost sight of Romans 14:12 which reads, ‘So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.’ and of 2 Corinthians 5:10 which reads, ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.’ 

     Be clear.  These verses are not speaking of salvation as if good or bad works could get us saved. These verses are related to the assessment of our efforts while here on earth.  Because of Christ’s work on the cross and our salvation through repentance and rebirth we have been given spiritual gifts, a renewed mind (see 1 Cor. 2:14) a charge to continue learning (see Rom. 12:1-2), and everything necessary for life and godliness.  We will one day be able to hand back to God what we have been a part of as children of God.

 

Rejection

     God knows personally what rejection feels like as we read in 1 Samuel 8:1-8, where the people rejected Him as their King.  We too must respond to feelings of rejection as Jesus explains:  

The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”  (Luke 10:16 NASB)

     We must know what is and is not our responsibility.  We, as Christians, have been told to steward the truth and freedom that God defines, that Christ has purchased for us, and made available to all who would believe and surrender to His lordship and His ways.

     Stewardship is a matter of being faithful to what God has given us, knowing that all we have has been given in order to promote and produce His plan for life, the region, the moment.  Be faithful, walk in humility, serve as Christ served and this will result in your flowing with His power to, cast out demons, turn water into wine and an unlimited collection of “greater works than these”.  We are simply expected to trust God as stewards or administrators of the King who have been granted a part in the miracle of creative salvation. 

     No task or agenda is complete without the day-to-day prayerful walk of obedience as steward and master walk together.  Freedom and stewardship are found in walking with Him.