Summary: Sermon for the 8th Sunday after Epiphany.
1 Corinthians 4: 1 – 5 / Servants and Stewards
Intro: I’ve been thinking about taking a cruise. I’ve never been on a cruise; but, people who have tell me it is a wonderful experience. There is so much to entertain you and people everywhere whose responsibility it is to see that you have a good time. --- You know the church has often been compared to a ship that sails the seas of life searching for those lost at sea. --- The problem with that imagery is most people today have the conception that the church is a cruise ship. We see ourselves as passengers instead of members of the crew.
I. VS. 1a – “Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ . . .” NIV – So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ.”
A. The Greek word for “servant” hypēretēs can refer to various people who carry out responsibilities under the direction of someone else.
B. This type of servant is seen as an assistant and is often used in conjunction with those who row a boat. They are considered “under-oarsmen.” As an under-oarsmen, you don’t stand on the bow of the ship and yell orders. You grab an oar and start rowing at the command of the Captain.
C. The task of these slaves was to pull the oars to propel the ship forward. As every member rows together we move the Church forward in its purpose and power.
II. VS. 1 – “Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ, AND stewards of God’s mysteries.” NIV – “So then, men ought to regard us a servants of Christ AND as those entrusted with the secret things of God.
A. The Greeke word that is used here is oikonomos, “steward,” which literally means a house manager.
B. This steward” was often a trusted slave who was set in a position of authority over the financial affairs of a house. That word can be translated as manager, supervisor, administrator; but, definitely not ownership.
C. We are to be managers of God’s truth and God’s resources. The problem is the longer a church has been in existence, the more likely its resources will go toward its own preservation rather than toward outreach and evangelism. Our tendency is to design ministries that meet our own needs as opposed to the needs of those who have not yet entered the kingdom. We are entrusted with the secret things of God not to keep them secret. We are charged with sharing them.
III. VS. 2 – “How it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
A. The Greek word used here is pistos It can be translated by several English words: trustworth, dependable, faithful. But I believe Paul is using it here in the sense of inspiring trust or faith.
B. Servants and Stewards are to be faithful, that is inspiring trust or faith in others. j
C. We are not required to be BRILLIANT - INTELLIGENT – ARTICULATE – LITERATE – HANDSOME – ELOQUENT Christ Jesus has placed a trust to us in this time and place and we must be inspiring that same trust and faith in others by what we do as a church and as individuals.
Conclusion: In Paul’s day, being appointed a steward was a high honor, meaning that a person was trusted enough to manage the affairs of the master’s estate. --- We are not called to be passengers on the ship of the church. We are called to be faithful servants and stewards inspiring faith and trust in God.