Rev. Hanko is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Our God is the God of all grace. He is infinitely glorious in all His divine perfections, eternally blessed in the intimacy of His covenant life as three Persons within the one divine Being. He is the God of all grace, beautiful, adorable, ever glorious in His majesty.
He who called the things that were not as though they were and upholds them by His almighty power declares to us:
The cattle on a thousand hills
And all the forest beasts are Mine,
Each mountain bird to Me is known,
Whatever roams the field I own.
And we also belong to Him, not only because He is our Creator, as marvelous as that may be, but also because He has made us His peculiar possession in Christ Jesus according to sovereign election.
In eternal good pleasure and amazing grace, for reasons in Himself, God chose us, redeemed us through the atoning death of His Son, and has given His Spirit into our hearts, making us new creatures in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We who were dead in trespasses and sins, children of Satan, rebels who defiantly transgressed all His commandments, worthy only of everlasting condemnation in torments of hell, God raises out of death into life, delivers out of darkness into His marvelous light, and makes us sons and daughters, heirs of eternal salvation.
While millions perish in their sins, cast out forever, God has separated us unto Himself in eternal, boundless love, and claims us as His very own: “My children!” “My chosen!” “My peculiar possession!”
This God is our God forever and ever. We have a place in His church, among the assembly of the saints, with a rightful claim to all His promises.
And, with all that, we are privileged to love and to serve Him as stewards in His house, serving His purpose to the glory of His matchless Name. In worship and in holy adoration we confess,
All that I am I owe to Thee,
Thy wisdom, Lord, hath fashioned me;
I give my maker thankful praise,
Whose wondrous works my soul amaze.
Every true member of the church receives his own gracious endowment as steward in the house of God, his own place and calling among the brethren. In the office of believers we receive the anointing of Christ, to be devoted to God as prophets, priests, and kings.
According to Jesus’ parable, one receives five talents, another two, and another one, each according to his ability (Matt. 25:14, 15).
The stewards referred to in the parable were often household slaves. They might be intelligent and capable persons, but they were owned by their lord and master, in every way completely subservient to him.
In a far richer sense we confess, “I am not my own; I belong with body and soul, for time and eternity, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who is now gone into glory, makes me a steward in God’s house, entrusting His goods to my care, and upon our Lord’s return requires of me that I give an account of my stewardship.”
Scripture assures us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
Among all the people of God who have lived on this earth there are no two alike. Among all those living today, each is an individual with his own distinctive nature, characteristics, gifts, and talents.
For each of us God has determined our parents, our time and place of birth, and the span of our lives. Each of us has his or her own place in our own families, among our friends, in our church and our environment.
We are God’s workmanship. Each of us is custom made, as it were, exactly as God determined from all eternity, in order that we may serve our own appointed purpose here on earth.
Every single member of the body of Christ, whether young or old, must fulfill his unique task. We are members one of another as belonging to the body of Christ, each functioning in his or her own place for the salvation of the body.
Each father as head of the family, each mother as she carries out her duties in the home, each son or daughter, each brother or sister, in the home as prophet. This is also our calling in the church and in the midst of the world. God’s mandate is, “Ye are My witnesses.”
Each of us must consecrate his life in the fear of the Lord. Children as well as adults are told, “Whether you eat, or whether you drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.”
Each of us has the responsibility to fight the battle of faith, defend the truth, maintain God’s Name, and resist all the onslaughts of the devil in an evil world.
What a blessed privilege! Together we serve for the coming of God’s kingdom in the day of the Lord!
The God of all grace bestows upon us the many and various blessings of grace whereby we are graced in the Beloved.
The Spirit of Christ has called us out of death into life. We live, yet not we, Christ lives in us. According to that new life we walk by faith and not by sight, capable of crucifying the flesh and living a new and holy life. If and when we falter and fall into sin, God in mercy forgives upon confession of our sins. He justifies, sanctifies, and preserves us from day to day as we walk life’s pathway.
We are called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We are not robots that mechanically move about, but we are rational, moral, thinking, willing persons, who are responsible to God for all that we do. We have a responsibility for ourselves, but also for the fellow members of the body of Christ. The gift we receive must be ministered one for the other.
We have a responsibility, first of all, toward our family. Also to the members of the congregation and denomination in which we reside, and also to God’s universal church. That church is gathered, protected, and defended by no one less than the Son of God, the Lord of glory; but He uses means toward that end.
We must bear with one another’s weaknesses, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven us. At all times we must be ready to give a cup of water to the thirsty, a slice of bread to the hungry, lodging to the stranger, and a visit to the needy. There may even be a Lazarus at our doorstep, filthy, full of sores, and hungry. In as much as we extend a hand to one of the least of the brethren, we have done it unto Christ.
This includes that we are ready at all times to give an account of the hope that is within us. Always, every day of our lives, in all that we say and do, we are stewards of the manifold grace of God. What are you and I doing with the talents that have been entrusted to us? “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10).
We all without exception must stand in judgment. Our whole life in all its minute details will pass in review before us. We will be judged accordingly.
Our only salvation will be that Christ, who died for us and is risen, is our Judge. All our works that we performed will be burned like straw and stubble. Only that which was performed by the Spirit of Christ through us will stand. Christ’s work in and through us will determine our place in glory.
Maybe we have but one talent. We may feel that if we only had more we could do far more for the kingdom.
I knew a woman who because of some infirmity spent most of her life in Pine Rest. There was one thing that troubled her. She seemed so useless in this world. She could not have a family or be active in the church.
In order to take away some of the monotony in her life, she was placed in the wash room, where the women who suffered from depression washed away their tears. This woman did not preach to them. She did not know how, nor did she intend to do that. She had but a word, also for the weary. She told them to pray, assured them that God understood, and that He could help them.
One of these women said when she was recovered, “No one in that hospital helped me as much as the woman in the wash room.” And she thought that she amounted to nothing.
Manifold grace! Did Christ entrust you with five talents? Do not despise those who have but one. Were you given two talents? Labor while it is day. Do you have but one? Do not make light of it. We could not handle any more.
In any instance, when we speak let us speak the truth according to the Word of God, and when we work let us work with the ability that God gives us. “That God in all things may be glorified through Christ Jesus, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (v. 11).