August 13, 2006 – August 19, 2006
“As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10.
Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 2, 191–196.
“A steward identifies himself with his master. His master’s interests become his. He has accepted the responsibilities of a steward and he must act in the master’s stead doing as the master would do if he were presiding over his own goods. The position is one of dignity in that his master trusts him. If a steward in any wise acts selfishly, and turns the advantages gained in trading with his lord’s goods to his own advantage, he has perverted the trust reposed in him. The master can no longer look upon him as a servant to be trusted, one on whom he can depend.
“Every Christian is a steward of God, and entrusted with his goods. Ministers and laymen have a work committed to them as individuals. All who are connected by faith with our Lord Jesus Christ have a ministry to perform. Those who do not take their position on the Lord’s side, ought to without delay; for they will have to give an account of themselves to God. Christ paid the ransom for them as verily as for every professed Christian. If they despise the gift, the question will be asked, Who bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” The Kress Collection, 154, 155.
1 Upon hearing the special instruction given to His people by the Saviour (Luke 12:35, 36), in view of His soon return, what did Peter want to know? Luke 12:41.
note: “The people whom God has made the depositaries of His law are not to permit their light to be hidden. The truth must be proclaimed in the dark places of the earth. Obstacles must be met and surmounted. A great work is to be done, and this work has been entrusted to those who know the truth. They should make mighty intercession with God for help now. The love of Christ must be diffused in their own hearts. The Spirit of Christ must be poured out upon them, and they must be making ready to stand in the judgment. While they are consecrating themselves to God, a convincing power will attend their efforts to present the truth to others, and its light will find access to many hearts. We must sleep no longer on Satan’s enchanted ground, but call into requisition all our resources and avail ourselves of every facility with which Providence has furnished us. The last warning is to be proclaimed ‘before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings;’ and the promise is given, ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’ [Revelation 10:11; Matthew 28:20.]” Testimonies, vol. 5, 454.
2 How did Christ reply to Peter? Luke 12:42.
note: “We do not, as followers of Christ, realize our true position. We do not have correct views of our responsibilities as hired servants of Christ. He has advanced us the wages in His suffering life and spilled blood, to bind us in willing servitude to Himself. All the good things we have are a loan from our Saviour. He has made us stewards. Our smallest offerings, our humblest services, presented in faith and love, may be consecrated gifts to win souls to the service of the Master and to promote His glory. The interest and prosperity of Christ’s kingdom should be paramount to every other consideration. Those who make their pleasure and selfish interest the chief objects of their lives are not faithful stewards.
“Those who deny self to do others good, and who devote themselves and all they have to Christ’s service, will realize the happiness which the selfish man seeks for in vain. Said our Saviour: ‘Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.’ [Luke 14:33.] Charity ‘seeketh not her own.’ [1 Corinthians 13:5.] This is the fruit of that disinterested love and benevolence which characterized the life of Christ. The law of God in our hearts will bring our own interests in subordination to high and eternal considerations. We are enjoined by Christ to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. This is our first and highest duty. Our Master expressly warned His servants not to lay up treasures upon the earth; for in so doing their hearts would be upon earthly rather than heavenly things. Here is where many poor souls have made shipwreck of faith. They have gone directly contrary to the express injunction of our Lord, and have allowed the love of money to become the ruling passion of their lives. They are intemperate in their efforts to acquire means. They are as much intoxicated with their insane desire for riches as is the inebriate with his liquor.
“Christians forget that they are servants of the Master; that they themselves, their time, and all that they have belong to Him. Many are tempted, and the majority are overcome, by the delusive inducements which Satan presents to invest their money where it will yield them the greatest profit in dollars and cents. There are but few who consider the binding claims that God has upon them to make it their first business to meet the necessities of His cause and let their own desires be served last. There are but few who invest in God’s cause in proportion to their means. Many have fastened their money in property which they must sell before they can invest it in the cause of God and thus put it to a practical use. They make this an excuse for doing but little in their Redeemer’s cause. They have as effectually buried their money in the earth as had the man in the parable. They rob God of the tenth, which He claims as His own, and in robbing Him they rob themselves of the heavenly treasure.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 397, 398.
3 Who are referred to as stewards? 1 Peter 4:10.
note: “When we accepted Christ as our Redeemer, we accepted the condition of becoming laborers together with God. We made a covenant with Him to be wholly for the Lord; as faithful stewards of the grace of Christ, to labor for the upbuilding of His kingdom in the world. Every follower of Christ stands pledged to dedicate all his powers of mind and soul and body to Him who has paid the ransom money for our souls. We engaged to be soldiers, to enter into active service, to endure trials, shame, reproach, to fight the fight of faith, following the Captain of our salvation.
“In your connection with worldly societies are you keeping your covenant with God? Do these associations tend to direct your own mind or that of others to God, or are they diverting the interest and attention from Him? Do they strengthen your connection with the divine agencies, or turn your mind to the human in place of the divine?
“Are you serving, honoring, and magnifying God, or are you dishonoring Him and sinning against Him? Are you gathering with Christ or scattering abroad?” Selected Messages, Book 2, 124.
4 What is the position of the steward? Corinthians 4: 1, 2.
note: “As followers of Christ we do not realize our true position. We do not have correct views of our responsibilities. We are stewards of our Lord, and the interests and prosperity of His cause should receive our first and best attention. In the balances of the sanctuary our gifts are not estimated according to the amount given, but according to the self-denial, prompted by love for Christ, that the gift has cost.” Pacific Union Recorder, October 24, 1901.
“[1 Chronicles 29:5 quoted.] The response [for material to build the temple] came not only in liberal offerings of treasures to meet the expense of the building, but also in willing service in the various lines of God’s work. Hearts were filled with a desire to return to the Lord His own, by consecrating to His service all the energies of mind and body. Those upon whom had been placed burdens of state, determined to labor heartily and unselfishly, using for God the skill and ability He had given them.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1129.
5 What is the evil servant represented as saying and doing? Luke 12:45.
note: “The evil servant says in his heart, ‘My lord delayeth his coming.’ [Luke 12:45.] He does not say that Christ will not come. He does not scoff at the idea of His second coming. But in his heart and by his actions and words he declares that the Lord’s coming is delayed. He banishes from the minds of others the conviction that the Lord is coming quickly. His influence leads men to presumptuous, careless delay. They are confirmed in their worldliness and stupor. Earthly passions, corrupt thoughts, take possession of the mind. The evil servant eats and drinks with the drunken, unites with the world in pleasure seeking. He smites his fellow servants, accusing and condemning those who are faithful to their Master. He mingles with the world. Like grows with like in transgression. It is a fearful assimilation. With the world he is taken in the snare. ‘The lord of that servant shall come . . . in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.’ [Matthew 24:50, 51.]” The Desire of Ages, 635.
“My heart is filled with anguish when I think of the tame messages borne by some of our ministers, when they have a message of life and death to bear. The ministers are asleep; the lay members are asleep; and a world is perishing in sin. May God help His people to arouse and walk and work as men and women on the borders of the eternal world. Soon an awful surprise is coming upon the inhabitants of the world. Suddenly, with power and great glory, Christ will come. Then there will be no time to prepare to meet Him. Now is the time for us to give the warning message.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 37.
“The words of the Saviour in the parable of the wicked servant applies very forcibly to those who ridicule the near coming of the Son of man. [Luke 12:45, 46 quoted.]” The Signs of the Times, April 20, 1876.
6 Are the unfaithful stewards represented as unbelievers? In what does their sin consist? Luke 12:46; Matthew 24:51.
note: “Many professing Christians are cherishing the thought, ‘My lord delayeth His coming.’ [Luke 12:45.] They are becoming careless, and are following worldly policy. Eagerness to buy and sell and get gain is beclouding the spiritual vision.” Review and Herald, July 27, 1905.
“These men are saying in their hearts, ‘My Lord delayeth His coming,’ and the thought is expressed not only in action but in words. ‘Be not deceived in regard to Christ’s speedy appearing,’ these false guides are saying. ‘Peace and safety. The time is not yet. All things continue as they were from the beginning.’ They are denying the truth in their spirit, in their works, and in their words. They come under the denunciation of Christ: ‘But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ [Matthew 24:48–51]. See also Luke 8:12, 13; Matthew 11:20–23.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 3, 1323.
7 Will there be a difference in the punishment of these unfaithful stewards? Luke 12:47.
note: “Do not for a moment deceive yourself with the thought that your sin will not bring its merited punishment. Your transgressions will be visited with the rod, because you have had the light, yet have walked directly contrary to it. . . .
“My dear brother, your works are at variance with your professed faith, and your only excuse is the poor plea of convenience. The servants of God in past times have been called upon to lay down their lives in vindication of their faith. Your course illy harmonizes with that of the Christian martyrs, who suffered hunger and thirst, torture and death, rather than renounce their religion or yield the principles of truth.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 249, 250.
8 What solemn lesson do we learn from this when applied to those who have so great light as shines from God’s Word at the present day? Luke 12:48.
note: “God’s test of the heathen, who have not the light, and of those living where the knowledge of truth and light has been abundant, is altogether different. He accepts from those in heathen lands a phase of righteousness which does not satisfy Him when offered by those of Christian lands. He does not require much where much has not been bestowed (MS 130, 1899).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1121.