Stewards Of God's Grace
By George D. Watson
All the operations of grace are wonderful to us, especially in view of the stubbornness of our nature, but it is still more surprising that in addition to saving us, God should arrange to take us into partnership with Himself, and commit to our hands His best treasures, that we might be stewards of His manifold graces, and share with Him the doing of good, as if there was some sort of equality between us.
It is the highest glory of our nature that we can be knit to the living God by union with Jesus, and so partake of His character as to be possessed with His thoughts and plans in such a way that we make them our own. That we are stewards of God's gifts is taught from the earliest pages of Scripture, in that God inquired of Cain where his brother was, and that murderer tried to shake off his responsibility by saying, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
Jesus was constantly teaching that His followers were to be stewards of His goods. The Apostle Peter has a significant passage in which he mentions four prominent things in which we are to exercise our stewardship: prayer, divine love, hospitality and the oracles of God (l Peter 4:7-11).
There are two words in the Greek Testament translated steward, or stewards. One is epitropos, which is used twice and signifies one to whom treasure is committed for safekeeping as money in a bank. The other word is oikonomos, which is used twelve times, and signifies the proper management of a household or a family. The word is composed of oikos, which means a house, and nomos, which means a rule or a law.
This is the word that Peter uses. He teaches that in God's family or spiritual house, He has appointed us who have received the Holy Spirit as elder children or superior servants, to properly administer food, raiment and oversight in all the affairs pertaining to the family. Especially we are to handle the family treasures for the welfare of the little children or the sick or weak ones and not to satisfy or please ourselves. Hence the Holy Spirit lives in us that He may through us administer the treasure of Christ to others and make each of us true missionaries.
We Are Stewards of Prayer
"Be sober unto prayer, as stewards of the grace of God." Prayer has been ordained of God as a real spiritual force in creation. It is a sacred trust committed to us to be used in accomplishing vast results in the world, which never would be brought about but by our prayers. The Scriptures teach us that it is by prayer we take hold on God and move Him to do many things which He would not do except on the condition of believing and prevailing prayer.
It is by prayer we reach the condition of saving faith, and subsequently of sanctifying power. Then it is by prayer we become agents of the Holy Spirit for the welfare of others – for healing the sick, for the saving of souls, for the protection of other people, for the opening of fields of usefulness, for providing temporal means, and for every good thing in this life and the life to come.
Prayer is the tie that connects us with the will of God, and the condition by which we enter into partnership with all His perfections and His plans. Nothing will serve to open up the interior of our own souls like true prayer, and nothing will bring to us such correct and beautiful views of God as earnest prayer. True prayer always brings the deepest rest in the heart life, while at the same time it is the greatest worker and most energetic force in the moral world.
The promises of God form a lever by which all things are lifted. The atonement of Jesus is the fulcrum upon which the lever rests, and prayer is the weight which we put on the upper end of the lever, by which we press down and lift the multiplied loads, both of a temporal and spiritual nature.
God waits to be gracious, but He is waiting for us to pray, for us to prevail with Him, and He honors us by holding His infinite wealth and grace for us to command. He says in His Word, "Ye that are God's remembrancers...give Him no rest" (Isa. 62:6-7). God has planned to accomplish things according to the prayer of His people. Think of what God would do if His followers would take time to pray, to pray through, to select subjects for prayer, to search out scriptural reasons for prayer. What revivals would come, what missionary work would be done. Have you thought that we must give an account for the power of prayer entrusted to us?
We Are Stewards of Divine Love
Peter says, "Above all things have fervent love among yourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins." The word "fervent" signifies to boil, to have warm, burning love for each other. There are two words for love. One signifies natural affection, but the original word here signifies divine love, which is planted in us by the new birth and then purified from sinful elements in the heart and made strong by the grace of sanctification.
This passion from the heart of God is imparted to us not only for our salvation, but as a sacred trust for us to pour out upon others. Our souls are the channels for the outpouring of the very feelings of God, His kindness and His sweetness to others. The religion of Jesus is the only one in all this world that is a religion of love. All other religions are systems of fear, of cruelty, ignorance and superstition and all the fallen religions of professed Christianity are only systems of forms, sacraments, politics and greed for money and earthly power, but not for real love.
The pure religion of Christ is founded in love and spread by love and is the proper fulfillment of all divine law because it is love. Nothing surprises wicked sinners and low, mean people and the poor heathen, like a display of pure, unselfish, divine love by those who are possessed with it. God works through us according to the measure of His love in us. This treasure is put at our disposal, and we are to give an account of how we use the love of God which He has given us.
We Are Stewards of Hospitality
"Using hospitality one to another, without murmuring, ministering to each other as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." This word hospitality not only includes entertaining God's servants, but to be keenly alive to feeding the hungry, clothing the needy, caring for the sick, looking after orphans, the giving of money and all earthly goods for the help of others.
Thousands of Christians are wishing they had more money that they might give something to others, when the fact is very few of them give the small amounts which they could give and which is the Lord's portion, if they would pay Him His tenth. The man who will not give the Lord's portion out of his scanty means would never give the Lord's portion if he had millions. It is a stern fact that the more money people have, the less liberal they get and the harder it is to give the Lord His tenth.
The Bible tells us there is only one special grace which a man needs in order to be a steward, and that is faithfulness, perfect fidelity, and Jesus says faithfulness is proved by little things. He who is faithful in that which is least will be faithful in that which is much. God is watching us to see if we are faithful in little things. The child who earns ten cents and from his little heart will give one cent to God and do it faithfully as unto God, will get exactly the same reward that a man would get who made $10,000,000 and gave $1,000,000, although out of such a large sum the millionaire should give enormously more than the tenth.
It is hard to get Christian people to love God and serve Him faithfully in temporal matters such as in doing good to the bodies of their fellow creatures. Of all amounts which are given in the way of hospitality, only a small amount is given out of the love for God and in the direction where the Spirit would lead if He were consulted. In the religious world, probably not over one dollar in a hundred that is professedly given to the Lord accomplishes anything for the spread of real salvation or evangelizing idolaters or the relief of the sick or the poor. So much is wasted on proud church buildings, on religious display, on useless machinery, that only a little results in real help to some human soul or body.
There will be no need for money in Heaven. But in this life, money, which represents all material wealth, is a sacred trust, and by using it for spiritual ends and the glory of God, it becomes linked in as a factor in the moral universe. The eggshell is left behind when the eagle soars in the sky, and yet at one time that shell was a great factor in the eagle's life.
In like manner, although the soul soaring to Paradise will leave earthly wealth behind, yet while we are on the earth, it is a shell, which can be made the instrument of great blessing in giving the saving, healing Gospel of our Lord to sick and sinning humankind. Jesus tells us to make money our friend by using it in the saving of souls, and then when we fail on the earth, these souls saved through our gifts will welcome us to everlasting habitation. Thus we are stewards of material treasures for the glory of God.
Stewards of the Word of God
Another treasure put in our hands as stewards of grace is that of the inspired Scriptures. In connection with being good stewards, the Apostle tells us if any man speak, let him speak according to the oracles of God, or to speak as if we ourselves were the oracles of God, that is, to regard our speech as giving forth the inspired Word which God has given us. What a sacred honor to hear God speaking in us by the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, and then for us to pronounce His words out loud for others to hear. This is the thought in our speaking as the oracles of God.
This earth contains no greater treasure than the Word of God, for it is the fountain of all good law and government, the source of all true morals and heart life, the standard of holiness, the fountain of culture, wisdom, salvation for nations or individuals, the light for all youth, the solace in trouble and old age. It is in every way what God would be were He perfectly apprehended and loved.
Nations have risen or fallen according as they were good stewards of the Bible. God entrusted His Word for fifteen hundred years to the one nation of Israel, and had they been true to that Word, they would have forever been the benefactors, the ministers of the human race. This same truth applies to churches, to congregations, to individuals. The Word of God is really divine salt and the only preserver from corruption.
David said, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee." This Word is to be saturated in our very nature, pervade our thoughts, warm our affections, guide our business, mould our conversation, and be the rock on which we stand.
Many years ago I was thinking one day while on a sick bed, what good I could accomplish if I had the millions that some have. The Holy Spirit spoke in my heart saying, "I have given you My Word and insight into the Holy Bible, as great in the spiritual world as the rich man's millions are in the material world, and what I ask is that you be a steward of giving out My Word, expounding it, preaching it, praying it, writing it, for My Word is gold which will last when all earthly wealth is destroyed."
Do we appreciate that God entrusts us with His Word and that we are to handle it, not deceitfully or selfishly or in a merely intellectual way, but as a divine treasure, handed down to us from Heaven?
These are some of the main treasures which God has entrusted to our hearts and head and hands, and if we are faithful as stewards in the using of this wealth, great will be our reward when Jesus comes.