Thesis: We are stewards ultimately accountable to God.
1. I'll never forget a particular episode of NBC's "Night Court."
a. Focused on "Bull" (bailiff).
1) On top of bldg. helping maint. worker pull up a cable.
2) During storm; Bull struck by lightning, semi-conscious.
3) Worker below (who had been feeding him the cable) was unaware; continues to talk on the walkie-talkie giving instructions like "measure eleven"; Bull = "Your treasure is in heaven!" GOD!
b. Next night Bull appears in court giving away all he has!
1) Gives away his car; $27,000 savings account, etc.
2) Friends think he's flipped his lid, urge him to stop.
3) Bull responds w/ "platitudes & moralisms" & continues give-away.
c. Friends finally figure out what happened (Bull down to last $100!).
1) Slowly able to convince him what he heard was not God telling him what was required of him;
2) But a maint. worker wondering why he stopped pulling up the cable.
2. Do you ever struggle with what God requires of you?
a. Sometimes God is very specific about what he wants:
1) Acts 2:38--"Repent & be baptized for the forgiveness of sins."
2) At other times he's not; Gal. 6:10--"Do good to all men ..."
b. What do you do when God is not very specific?
1) That's what we want to focus on today;
2) By exploring what it means to be .... A Steward of God.
I. WHAT IS A STEWARD?
A. A steward was a slave or servant (But not just any kind of servant!)
1. He was the guy Master left in charge.
a. Duties--manage the things of the Master.
1) Made sure household ran on a budget.
2) Made sure money went where it was supposed to.
3) Made sure others did what they supposed to do.
b. In short--Run things the way the Master would if he was there himself!
1) Had to know the Master well.
2) No pagers, modems, lap-tops, fax; Fed-X next day!
c. A steward differed from a slave the same way a manager differs today from hourly paid employee.
1) Slave: merely takes orders from superiors.
2) Steward: expected to use his own judgment.
B. Metaphor of a steward is a common one in the NT.
1. Luke 16:1-9; Matt. 25:14-30.
2. An elder is a steward! (Tit. 1:7).
II. WHAT DOES BEING A STEWARD IMPLY? (1 Cor. 4:1-5).
A. A Steward is one who has been entrusted (1).
1. Paul here speaking of being entrusted with gospel.
a. Teachers Corinthians valued not so wise!
b. Merely stewards with things God gave them.
2. Remembering you're a steward keeps things in persp.!
a. Not my money (God's just letting me handle it for a while).
b. Not my church (God's just giving me a place to serve him).
c. Not my children (On loan for a few yrs. to point in right dir.)
B. A Steward is one who is faithful (2).
1. Who is steward trying to please? Everybody? No way!
a. You can't please everybody--drive you crazy!
b. Illust. Early in my professional training I was warned about "unrealistic expectations." 100 people = 100 ideas. Impossible to live up to everyone's expectations. Admonished to live before God ... or go crazy.
2. There's a real danger in Christianity to act based on other's expectations (Bible calls this a "weak faith").
a. Peer pressure not just a youth topic!
b. Why do I do what I do? (Trying to please God or man?)
C. A Steward is one who is ultimately independent of others (3-4).
1. Three kinds of judgments mentioned here:
a. What you think of me.
b. What I think of me.
c. What God thinks of me (The one that counts!).
2. Paul: "If you want to judge me, go ahead! I don't care! Doesn't count! Own judgment of self doesn't count!
3. Therefore, SUSPEND JUDGMENT! CEASE SECOND GUESSING! (v. 5).
a. Paul put it this way in Rom. 14;
b. "Who are you to judge another man's servant? To his own master he stands or falls."
Conclusion: There will be a Judgment Day (Bible says it, you & I believe it ...)
1. In the meantime . . .
a. I don't have to answer to you. Not ultimately.
b. You don't have to answer to me.
2. We are a community of faith.
a. It's important that we are here for one another.
b. It's also important that we don't live our lives based on what other people think.
(From a sermon by James Walters)