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   Often, when the topic of stewardship comes up, folks tend to focus upon how well they handle the money with which they have been entrusted. The word “steward” is found only in two books of the New Testament portion of the Bible. Luke contains the word or title “steward” five times and in each of these as Jesus was speaking, He spoke regarding the handling of the material blessings with which God has richly blessed. Jesus used the idea of stewardship to help those He taught (Israel) see that everything God has provided should always be used as God intended that it be used.  

   When Jesus was here and taught these lessons, He did so that Israel might learn to properly use all with which God had blessed them. They were so taught that they might also be beneficiaries in the “Christian” age which would soon be ushered in following Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and His ascension to the Father.  It is true that monies, and all other physical blessings given us of God are to be used properly, but God has “delivered” spiritual things to man as well.

   The only other New Testament occurrence of “steward” is found in Titus 1:7 and conveys a deeper meaning than just properly looking out for the physical things of this life.  In this passage we see part of the qualifications of an “elder” (bishop) in the church addressed. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;  Notice here that an elder, serving God in that capacity, with other elders within a congregation of the Lord’s church, have a very serious obligation and responsibility toward the souls they “oversee”. They are to truly be “stewards of God” regarding God’s people - Christians.

     In Hebrews 13:17 we find the Spirit having the penman instruct the Hebrew Christians to submit to those “elders” that watch for their souls. Those elders in the congregations of the Hebrew Christians had the solemn responsibility of “stewardship” over those whom God made them overseers. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.   This idea of being overseers and the stewardship of this office is also conveyed in Acts 20:28 where the Spirit had Paul address the Ephesians elders.   Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.    Indeed, all elders, in every congregation are to be stewards.

     But, lest we shirk our own responsibilities, we need to be reminded that all of God’s people are also “charged” to be good stewards.   This includes all the material substance with which we are entrusted, but it also includes being good stewards of the Word of God. In 2Timothy 2:15 we read of an admonition given to Timothy, but is also applicable to all Christians.   Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  Study is required by all, but if we are to be “good stewards” we must also “rightly divide” or handle the Word rightly.

   In the Philippian letter, the Spirit had Paul speak of the defense of the gospel. This is part of handling it aright.     In Philippians 1:7 Paul was “set for the defense” of it. I don’t think any could honestly say that Paul was not a good steward of God. Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 

   Part of “defending” the gospel is to “stand up” against all who are against the gospel of God, which is His Word.   Jude, through inspiration, was directed to exhort us (all Christians) to “earnestly contend for the faith”. (Jude vs 3) Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  To do so is being a good steward of the Word of God, which in itself is a blessing and a treasure.   He was also to tell us why this is necessary.   It is because some are not good stewards of God’s Word and even deny the Son of God. (vs 4) For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. 

     Let’s strive to be good stewards of all God has entrusted to us. The material blessings only last through this life, but the Word endures forever. Take care of both while living here.           Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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