by Paul Tautges | June 21, 2016 8:20 am
According to the Scriptures, faithfulness is the #1 quality of a servant of God. In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, the apostle said of himself and his co-workers: This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
Opposition, criticism, and comparison were among the many problems the Apostle Paul addressed in his first letter to the church at Corinth. The words “This is how one should regard us” connect this passage with the previous chapter in which Paul exhorted the Corinthians to recognize preachers as servants of God. They were not to be placed in competition against one another, nor were they to be looked down upon for firmly standing on God’s revelation over and above worldly wisdom. Instead they were to view preachers as servants of Christ and stewards of God.
Servants (hyperetes) means “under-rowers” and refers to the ones who rowed in the lower part of a ship. These were the ones who worked in the stinkiest part of the ship and were most unnoticed by others. The word was later used of domestic workers and referred to service of a lowly kind.
Ministers of the gospel are under-rowers for Christ, completely subject to His authority. The word is used elsewhere in the New Testament in the following ways:
Gospel ministers are first of all servants of Christ sent to feed, lead, and protect His flock. They live and serve under His direction and authority. As servants, they are accountable to Him. A pastor is a servant in a church, but the church is not his master.
Steward is a compound word from oikos meaning “house” and nomos meaning “law,” thus “the law of the house.” It refers to the manager of a household. In Paul’s day, wealthy landowners entrusted one of the slaves to be in charge of the others. He was given the responsibility of running the estate and was accountable to the owner when he returned. For example:
The concept of stewardship emphasizes responsibility, accountability, and delegated authority. Pastors and elders are fellow slaves of Christ whom God has chosen to oversee His household. They possess a stewardship for which they are responsible and accountable. Biblical leaders are primarily stewards of the mysteries of God. “Mystery” in the New Testament refers to truth that was once hidden and is now revealed. The primary sphere of the preacher’s responsibility is that of being a steward of God’s revelation in Scripture.
We live in a day and age in which many pastors do not realize this because they have not been taught properly. There are too many seminaries that are simply training men to be administrators and public relations experts in order to bring into the church as many people as possible. Many are not being trained to think of themselves as stewards of truth, managers of the Word of God, responsible to teach and preach and guard it with their life so that God’s sheep are cared for faithfully. But Paul trained Timothy to think this way:
There is one requirement for a steward of truth: that he be found faithful (pistos), trustworthy and dependable. As a servant, a pastor is to be faithful to God. As a steward, he is to be faithful to God’s Word and, by doing so, he will be faithful to the flock entrusted to his care. God doesn’t measure success by worldly standards. Success may be defined biblically by one word: faithfulness.
[These words are from the Introduction of the sermon about Timothy, A Servant of Proven Worth.]
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