1 Corinthians 4:1-2
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.
A few weeks ago, my aunt passed away after a brave battle with pancreatic cancer. She was one of the sweetest most encouraging people I knew. She always had a smile for me and would ask every time I saw her, “How’s it going kiddo?” If someone needed a meal, she wouldn’t ask, she would just bring it and she wouldn’t knock on the door and bring it in. She would leave it and then call to tell you it was on your back porch because she never wanted to impose on anyone. Random acts of kindness over and over again. When we left St. Peter in 2009, my Aunt Susan was a member there, she put together our going away party and it was classic Susan. Everything thought of, everything meaningful, but Susan, she was sort of hidden in the back after a brief word or two. She was the epitome, in my mind, of a good steward. Someone who knew that each action and decision was a service for God to someone who had a need. She just did it, whether it was out of love, compassion, service, I’m not sure I will ever know all the motivations. I just know if she could do something, she would do something and when she would do something, she was being used by God in some pretty miraculous ways.
Christian stewardship can simply be defined as how each and every one of us is used for God’s purposes in relating to one another. We are servants who minister to the world on God’s behalf, entrusted with God’s stuff.
Unfortunately, many church folk regard stewardship only in financial terms. When we hear the word, stewardship, we say, “Hold on to your wallet or pocketbook, here they come again.” This is not entirely the church’s fault. The unfortunate truth is many pastors and other church leaders have used the term ‘biblical stewardship’ when really all they are after is your money. That is unfortunate.
I am fascinated by one throwaway line in a stewardship parable in Matthew 25 that seems to frame everything differently. Jesus tells of a master who leaves three servants (stewards) in charge. You may remember this famous parable of Jesus; the master gives each servant differing amounts of talents – five, three and one. In the opening of the parable, Jesus says that the master went away and “entrusted [all] his property to them.” I use ‘all’ because that is the meaning of the phrase. The significance of that one line cannot be understated. When the master entrusts all of his property to these stewards, they literally become the regents of all the master owns. I have always focused on the talents the stewards each receive and what they do with them. Yet, at the moment of this ‘entrusting’ they become overseers of everything. They had responsibility for everything. This is the essence of stewardship. While we may have a lot of stuff God has entrusted to us with our names on it, the truth is – we have actually been “entrusted” with everything – even the stuff that doesn’t have our name on it.
We are stewards of God’s ‘mysteries’. The word mystery in the scripture always refers to the invisible element of God’s grace working through some tangible means. Sacraments are mysteries of God. So is a hug from your 10-year old daughter as she whispers in your ear, “I love you daddy.” We are to be the stewards of God’s mysteries, the workings of God’s grace. When God works through our words and deeds it shouldn’t surprise us and at the same time it should always surprise us. As God is made known through Jesus Christ, we are to make Christ known through every word and action in our lives. We are gifts to one another.
We are simply the stewards – the servants. We are not God. Let us give our lives as faithful stewards of God’s mysteries, continuing to surprise, bring comfort, offer joy, and provide healing.