Imagine a four-man relay. The first two runners have blazed around the track in record time. Incredibly, the third man matched their feat and is handing not only the baton but also the possibility of a world record to the fourth runner. What happens next could be attributed to a number of things – lack of discipline, failure to properly train for the demanding event, unwillingness to commit himself whole-heartedly. Whatever the reason, the fourth man receives the baton and, in an inexplicably half-hearted manner, lopes around the course. His team comes in third. Single-handedly, he wiped out the accomplishments of his teammates and negated all their hard work, practice, and commitment.
That fourth man was being handed the responsibility to complete what the others had started. They had “guarded” their time and committed it to him. In one sense, he was a “steward,” being asked to faithfully and enthusiastically “give it his all.”
The Scriptures remind us so often of the importance of stewardship and of the faithfulness and wisdom incumbent on anyone to whom God has committed His things. Abraham’s steward was responsible for his master’s possessions (Gen 15:2), as was Joseph’s, who carried out his will (Gen 44:4). David’s stewards were “over all the substance and possession of the king” (1 Chr 28:1). Paul described himself and his fellow-workers as “ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1), and reminded the Corinthians that the sine qua non of stewardship is “faithfulness” (1 Cor 4:2). Overseers must view their service to the Lord’s people in this light, because “a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God” (Titus 1:7). And Peter reminds us that whatever ability we have been given by God must be handled “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet 4:10).
The present issue of Truth and Tidings traces some of the applications of this weighty truth – our stewardship in raising children, handling our money, spreading the gospel, and participating in assembly meetings. Would it alter our commitment to, and concern for, these things if we realized that what we call “ours” are really “His,” lent to us for only a short time? He is not calling on us to be novel and clever but, like Ezra, to see to it that not one precious vessel committed to our trust is lost in the desert as we make our way to “the city of the great King.” To the utmost of our ransomed abilities, our efforts should be poured into guarding, maintaining, and furthering what has been committed to our trust.
Explaining the secret of Britain’s solitary stand – both epochal and heroic – against the Nazi tyranny during World War II, Edward R. Murrow wrote, “Unconsciously they dug deep into their history and felt that Drake, Raleigh, Cromwell, and all the rest were looking down at them, and [that] they were obliged to look worthy in the eyes of their ancestors.” When Napoleon wanted to rally his exhausted, flagging troops in Egypt, fighting in the shadows of the timeless pyramids, he said to his soldiers, “Remember, forty centuries are looking at you.”
I am not sure that the saints in heaven are “watching” us, but there is One Who does. And He asks, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over His household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?” (Luke 12:42). By His grace, may He find us faithful!