Rev. Kuiper is pastor of Immanuel Protestant Reformed Church in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada.
Our New Testament words steward andstewardship come from a Greek word, the parts of which mean “house” and “manager.” A stewards is one who labors in the house of another, manages that house as to its business and affairs, with the calling to work for the welfare and advancement of his master. Joseph was such an overseer in Potiphar’s household, and Chuza was steward in Herod’s house.
Three things stand out in this matter of stewardship. First, God is the great Master of the universe, the absolute Owner of all that He has made. The cattle on a thousand hills, the silver and the gold, all things belong to God. Without relinquishing this ownership, God has given to all men a certain station in life and a certain amount of abilities, wealth, children, and opportunities. With the distribution of these things comes the calling to use them to the glory of God and the advancement of His great cause. And, finally, there comes the day of accounting or reckoning, when every man will give an account of his stewardship. These three points regarding stewardship are made vividly in the parables contained in Matthew 25:14ff. and Luke 16:1ff.
In general, therefore, all men stand in a steward-relation to God in the household of His creation. They have all received many gifts which are to be used in the service of God and His kingdom. And God will judge every man, as steward, according as his works have been, whether they were good or evil.
But Scripture speaks of the stewardship of saints in two particular areas. Ministers are stewards of the mysteries of God! (I Cor. 4:1) God has entrusted many mysteries to His ministers, truths which man could never attain unto had not God revealed them to us in Christ. There is the mystery of His will (Eph. 5:36), of regeneration (John 3:8), of the resurrection ( I Cor. 15:51), and of the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11). Ministers are called to work with these mysteries of the gospel, teaching them and preaching them, calling to faith regarding them. And they must not change those mysteries in any way! They must not fail to proclaim them in their fullness, in their relation to one another, and in their application to the present day. God will ask every minister in the last day, “What did you do with My mysteries which I have showed to you? What did you do with all the details of My counsel that are revealed in Scripture and you were called to preach? Were you ashamed of these things, or did you proclaim them with joy and conviction?
I Peter 4:10 makes clear that every saint is a steward of the manifold grace of God. God has revealed His saving grace in Christ to us and in us. That grace is rich and many-sided. But that grace is not to be hid or selfishly kept to one’s self; it is to be ministered to one another in charity, in hospitality, in words of comfort. And the purpose is that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ. In that last day, God will ask of every member of His church, “What did you do with the grace that I showered upon you in My Son? What did you do with the many opportunities I sent your way to minister to those in need? How did you confess and live My manifold grace?
The outstanding characteristic of a steward is faithfulness. Yes, we oughts to be cheerful and content as we go about our labors in the kingdom of God. But it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. That is the chief thing. Faithful to God in Whose house we labor. Faithful to God Who is worthy of our best and far more. Faithful to God Who has saved us from the wrath to come by giving us a place in His covenant house.