Be Stewards Of God’s Grace

Photo by Evi Odioko on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 4:1-4 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

Judge Not

One of the most abused Bible verses in the Scripture is Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). People love to trot this verse out anytime they make a lifestyle choice that the Scripture forbids.

The Scripture condemns practicing homosexuality.
The Scripture forbids sex outside of Biblical marriage.
The Scripture forbids drunkenness, thievery, greediness.

The Apostle said in:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) … do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

And again in 1 Timothy 1:8-10 (ESV) Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,

Sound doctrine” (hygiainō didaskalia, wholesome or healthy teachings) will never advocate behavior that is forbidden by the Scripture. When Jesus said “Judge not, that ye be not judged”, Jesus was not forbidding that we should never make judgments. Right after saying “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1), Jesus went on to say in …

Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

And again in Matthew 7:15-16 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

As believers in Christ we are required to make judgments all the time. Our judgments are not based on our opinions, but on what the Holy Scripture says.

Scripture is our ruler.
Scripture is our weight scale.
Scripture is our measuring cup.
Scripture is our thermometer.
Scripture is our odometer.
Scripture is our thermostat.
Scripture drives the Christian!

It is not what PEOPLE say, but what GOD has said. When Jesus said “Judge not, that ye be not judged” He was warning us to EXAMINE OUR OWN LIVES FIRST before looking at another person’s life. When you read the context of Matthew 7 you will see that Jesus was NOT saying don’t make judgments. What He was saying was “Don’t make judgments without first examining your OWN life”. This is why He said:

Matthew 7:2-3 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Jesus is addressing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the Self Righteous, who were one in the same. Examine yourselves first – then try and help others!

Stewards Are Judged By Their Master

As workers together with God (2 Corinthians 6:1) and lively stones in the House of God (1 Peter 2:5) we ARE and WILL BE judged by our God.

The Corinthians have been comparing the ministry of Paul to the ministry of Apollos, and in their minds (and mouths) Paul’s ministry was terribly poor compared to Apollos. The first thing that Paul brings out is:

1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Word Study:He starts with Let a man so account of us. Here he uses an interesting word, the Greek λογίζομαι logízomai, [pronounced log-id’-zom-ahee], which means “to take an inventory of”. Paul tells the Corinthians, “if you are calculating my ministry, start your calculations with this: we Apostles are ministers of Christ and stewards of God. Paul is telling the Church, “I don’t work for YOU. I work for JESUS”. And by implication, Paul is saying “YOU work for Jesus TOO”.

It is perfectly acceptable to judge a person’s behavior based on what the Scripture clearly outlines. There are certain things that Christians should and should not do. In 1 Corinthians 5 the Apostle will chastise the Church for not calling out and condemning fornication (sexual sin) in its midst. That requires judgment. In chapter 4 Paul is telling the Church “I work for Jesus. Jesus is my Master. Jesus will judge how I fulfilled my spiritual gifting. I am a STEWARD of God”.

Word Study: Every Christian is a steward of Grace. This is the Greek οἰκονόμος oikonómos, [pronounced oy-kon-om’-os], meaning “someone placed in charge of a property that is not their own”. Stewards work for the Master. Stewards are not primarily concerned with what other stewards think or do. Good Stewards tend to their area of assignment so as to please the Owner of the property. As humans, we truly own nothing. The Bible starts with:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth …

God is the Owner of all things, and humans are but managers. The Christian does not even own themselves. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Our body and our spirit belong to God. He purchased us with the blood of Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord. You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a Lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19). We belong to God. We live our lives to please God. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

We are to love others. We are to try and help others. But as Christians, we live our lives to please the Owner of the Building, the Owner of the Garden. “You are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9, ESV). God is building the building. God is planting the field. We are servants of God.

1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Stewards are to be “found faithful” by
the Owner of the property.

The Source of our salvation is God.
The Source of our spiritual gifting is God.
The Source of our spiritual power is God.

The Apostle said I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). God gave us salvation, Sanctified us with His power, and indwelt us by His Spirit. We are to live to please the Master.

1 Corinthians 4:3-4 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

Paul does not waste time making judgments on his life, or listening to the judgments that others make on his spiritual gift. Paul said I judge not mine own self. He does not waste time critiquing what he has done for the Lord. Paul just follows the orders that the Lord gave him. He does the best he can with what God has entrusted to him.

There will always be murmurers and complainers among humans. Paul had little time for the murmurers and complainers! He focused on pleasing God.

Dr. Charles Stanley notes:

In the apostle’s day, a steward was a household manager—he himself didn’t own anything but was responsible for his master’s possessions and affairs. In essence, that’s what the Christian life is like. Every possession, privilege, and duty we have has been given to us by God. And as stewards, we are accountable to the Lord for the way we serve Him, what we say, and how we treat one another. The goal is God’s glory—not our rights, comforts, or pleasures.”

We cannot always see the end result of our work for God – but we can rest in the knowledge that God is in control. As Paul said earlier,

1 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV) I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

As stewards of God we do not often see the final results. We are just to be found faithful to our God every day. Do the best you can, as God decrees, and trust God for the results. The one who plants the garden does not necessarily determine the harvest. It is all in God’s hands. Live to please God. Because He that judgeth me is the Lord. The Lord judges us NOW, and will judge us at the Judgment Seat. We discussed that last week.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

When it comes to determining the performance of your ministry, let God be the judge. At the Judgment Seat of Christ our Lord will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. God will reveal the motivation behind what you did for Him. If you did something, but it was misunderstood by others (like the Corinthians), your heart’s cry will be revealed at the Judgment Seat. Paul begins to chastise the Corinthians for their murmuring against him.

Good Stewards Suffer

1 Corinthians 4:6-9 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. 7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? 8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. 9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

Word Study: The Apostle went through a great deal of persecution and loss in order to be an effective Steward of what God had given him to do. As an Apostle, Paul became a spectacle to the world, to the angels, and to people. The word spectacle is the Greek θέατρον théatron, [pronounced theh’-at-ron]. The word refers to a THEATER, a CARNIVAL SIDESHOW, or a Roman COLISEUM. Paul is saying, “I have been put on display by both Heaven and earth, for the amusement of others”. Paul often had to allow himself to be put in humiliating places in order to fulfill his calling. Right after Paul received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior on the Damascus Road, the Bible says:

Acts 9:19-25 (ESV) … For some days {Paul} was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But {Paul} increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. 23 When many days had passed, the Jews {Pharisees and Priests} plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to {Paul}. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.

Here comes Saul, delivered like a loaf of bread outside of the city! To do God’s work, to be a good Steward of what God has given you to do, sometimes requires you look like a fool. We read:

1 Corinthians 4:10-13 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; 12 And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off scouring of all things unto this day.

If you are going to live for God, you will be minimized in the Coliseum of life. Others will talk about you. Some will mock you. Perhaps a lazy Church like Corinth will criticize you. Yet you are Stewards for God.

Preach: The Corinthians were NOT living for Christ. When you have NO trials or tribulations, when your faith causes NO raised eyebrows by the world around you, you are NOT living for Christ. You are instead living as poor stewards, and will find this in the Judgment Seat of Christ one day.

John 15:20 (ESV) … ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

Christians, if you are living for Christ you will find resistance. If not, you will drift heavenward on gossamer wings (or so you believe)

We should expect difficulties if we are living for Jesus. Let us live for Jesus anyway! He is the Master, the Maker, and we but His stewards and children.

1 Corinthians 4:14-16 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. 15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

The Apostle said, be ye followers of me. This is not the only time Paul says this to the Church. In Philippians 3:17, “Brothers, join in imitating me”. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”.

Paul encourages the Corinthian believers to stop complaining, and to start living as Stewards of God.

As Paul put aside everything that might interfere with his being an effective Steward, he begs the Corinthiansbe ye followers of me. Some were even complaining that Paul had not visited then enough. Paul ends with these fatherly words:

1 Corinthians 4:18-21 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. 21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

Paul told the Corinthians, “Straighten up. Be better Stewards than you are now. Or else!” Oh Beloved, make sure that you stay on the right side of God’s Grace. Continue to serve Him, to please Him, to bring glory to Him.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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