Summary: Learn to invest into God’s work God’s way
This morning, we will continue to study Paul’s letter to the Philippians, but rather than studying about Paul and his situation, we will study what the Christians at the Philippi Community Christian Church were like, based on Paul’s writing.
If you want a title to organize your thoughts, the title is, "The True Steward." A steward is a manager put in charge to use or invest his or her owner’s resources according to the will of the owner of these resources. Therefore, we are all stewards or managers of God’s resources, to use and invest God’s resources according to God’s will.
I didn’t always know or believe this. When I was a new Christian, my pastor’s wife told me that everything I have is from God. I said with great conviction, "Oh?" I knew that everything I had came from my parents and their hard work. I saw the exchange of my parents’ time, energy and effort for their paycheck, which in exchange bought the food, clothing, other necessities and some savings.
Yet, as my perspective in life grew, I began to realize that one’s time, health and abilities, even one’s life are gifts from God. We are reminded in Genesis 2:7, "The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Biology tells us that like comes from like, and that spontaneous generation is not possible. Yet, evolutionists somehow ignore these truths.
Furthermore, we bring nothing into this world, and we bring nothing out of this world. The wealthy man who showed off his estate to his pastor and asked, "So pastor, to whom do you think all this belong?" His pastor replied, "Ask me that 50 years from now." The Psalmist records these words of God, "For every animal of the forest is Mine (that is God’s), and the cattle on a thousand hills. I (God) know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are Mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and all that is in it."
We are stewards and not the owner of all that we have. James wrote, "Now listen, you who say, ’Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ’If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’"
Living as a true steward requires that we acknowledge that everything we have belongs to God and that we live according to God’s will regarding His resources in our lives. Earlier this week, our neighbor’s soapy water came up the drain of our kitchen sink. If we see ourselves owning everything we have, we can be rather disturbed by every breakdown and needed repair around the house. Instead, I simply whispered, "God, look at what’s happening to your sink," and then I cleaned up the sink.
This morning, we will see how the Philippians lived out their role as God’s true stewards. We will not learn all the characteristics of a true steward from the Philippians, but we will learn four important characteristics of a true steward and look at one specific application at the end. Let me read for us Philippians 4:14-20.
FIRST, we see that the true steward is intentional in his or her giving. We read this in verses 14 to 16. We see the Philippians giving Paul help again and again because no other church did. Paul highlights this not because he is bitter, but because he is grateful for their gifts.
A true steward is not someone who needs to be needed or feels guilty in turning away others because he or she has limited resources. A true steward also does not give because everyone else is giving. Some people get their sense of significance from being a helper of others and ignore their own family’s needs, because their family members do not give them the praise or appreciation that others do. Others feel that every call for help is God’s call for their involvement. And still others give because of peer pressure or the want of recognition. None of these are motives of a true steward.
A true steward knows that God makes appointments between those in need and those who manage the resources. If you are a member of this church, God has made an appointment between you and the ministries of this church. In other words, you give through this church, and not to this church, to meet the needs God determines to meet through this church. Maybe God has set an appointment between you and the youth ministry, or between you and the outreach ministry or between you and the worship ministry? Don’t withhold the talents, the time and the money God has entrusted to you to meet these needs.