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Exercising Our Spiritual Gift(s) - Stewardship of Our Gifts

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With a spiritual gift comes stewardship of that gift. What exactly is stewardship? Consider the parable of our Lord of the unjust steward. And no, I'm not going to emphasize what the unjust steward did to try and get himself out of a jam after he was to be fired. Let's read the Scripture and then examine it for more appropriate lessons for managing our spiritual gift:
May God bless you all!
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Maranatha Emanuel!
References
[computer software] . Franklin, TN: Equipping Ministries Foundation. (Original work published 1890)
Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.
Strong, J.
Meyers, R. (2005). e-Sword.
Luke 16:1-8:
And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors
unto him
, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto
my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And He said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
First a couple of definitions:
Steward:
oikonomos
: G3623:
"From <G3624> [
oikos
- household] and the base of
<G3551> [
nomos
- law, regular, parcel out, manage]; a
house-distributor
(that is,
manager
), or
overseer
, that is, an employee in that capacity; by extension a fiscal
agent
(
treasurer
); figurative a
preacher
(of the Gospel):- chamberlain, governor,
steward" (Strong's G3623).
Stewardship:
oikonomia
: G3622:
From <G3623> [
oikonomos
]; administration
or management (of a household or estate); especially a (religious) "
economy
":-
dispensation of responsibilities, stewardship (Strong's G3622).
So in this parable, I would like to point out a few things:
The unjust steward was already a steward and expected to carry out his duties. Obviously, he did not. He "wasted his goods" - that of the master.
The master discovered the wastefulness and neglect and called the steward to account.
We have been given spiritual gift(s) and are to be stewards of those gifts and will be held accountable for their proper stewardship.
Let's compare that to the following parable of our Lord:
Matthew 25:14-30:
For
the kingdom of heaven is
as a man travelling into a far country,
who
called
his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made
them
other five talents. And likewise
he that
had received
two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one
went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done,
thou
good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few
things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo
there
thou hast
that is
thine. His lord answered and said unto him,
Thou
wicked and
slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and
then
at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
Take therefore that talent from him, and give
it
unto him which hath ten talents.
For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
So in this parable, I would like to point out a few more things:
The talents the servants (
doulos
(Strong's G1401)) were given were not theirs;
they belonged to the master and were given charge over them
Those who invested the talents received an increase both in the absence of the master and when he returned.
He who did not invest, but buried (read that - did not use) the master's talent was not only not rewarded, but lost the talent he had and was cast out (which will not happen to true believers).
These two parables and other sections of Scripture (like the parable of the vine which demands us to bear fruit, more fruit, much fruit) impress me to conclude that we indeed are to be stewards of our talents/spiritual gifts.
Reminder: The spiritual gift(s) we have are not our own!
1 Corinthians 12:1-6:
"Now concerning spiritual
gifts
, brethren, I would not have
you ignorant. . . . Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all."
Gifts:
charisma
(Strong's G5486): Gift given by grace (Note that joy is
chara
G5479) and
charis
(Strong's G5485) is grace, and
charisma
is gift.)
Given by the
Holy Spirit.
Administrations:
diakonia
: ministry, ministering, service, serving (Strong's G1248).
Operations:
energema
: energy, working, operations; taken from
energeo
(Strong's G1755).
Empowered by God the Father.
Directed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let's translate these three phrases:
The Holy Spirit assigns different spiritual gifts to the believers (some see this primarily as the Romans 12 list)
Jesus assigns the different ministries or offices to the believers (some see this as the lists in 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 and Ephesians 4:11-12)
God the Father assigns the different levels of power and scope of those ministries to the believers (some see this as the manifestation list in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
"Office" gift list in the New Testament
Office:
praxis
: <G4234>. Deed, work, practice, function, office (Strong's G4234) (this
word is translated office only once in the Bible and it is here in Romans 12:4 (Wordsearch's Strong's G4234)) - note that Paul is equating the offices that are distributed to the saints with the gift list that follows. These gifts then can be looked at as the gift that drives us, the gift that our spirit sees as our
praxis
, our job. Thus
some call this list our motivational gift - our main gift.
What Romans 12:1-16 teaches me regarding stewardship
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,
which is
your reasonable
service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what
is
that good, and acceptable, and
perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think
of himself
more highly than he ought to think; but to
think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office [
praxis
]: So we,
being
many, are one body in Christ, and every one
charisma
] differing [
diaphoros
(Strong's G1313)] according to the grace [
charis
] that is given to us,
- Romans 12:1-6a
We begin sound stewardship by presenting ourselves to the Master as a living sacrifice. That is, we willingly die to our own desires and take up His desires. Joseph is an excellent example first minding Jacob's, then Potiphar's, and then all of Egypt's affairs under the pharaoh. I would note that Joseph was not a robot blindly carrying out commands and nothing else. Using the understanding of his duties and scope of responsibilities, he applied the best methods, ideas, tools, and effort that he could.
We purpose to be conformed to our Master and not the world. That is, we set as our goal to be like Jesus, want what He wants, do what He would do, go where He wants us to go, etc. We love not the world nor things that are in the world - but where we need to - we use what we must of the world (clothing, food, etc.).
We work at renewing our mind by striving to take on the mind of Christ. He humbled Himself and set aside His glory. He sacrificed Himself for us. We need the same mental processes of humility and servanthood.
Take seriously our
praxis
, our office, which we exercise through whatever our gift
is. Are you an encourager? Don't seem to have a "position" in the church (like a Sunday School teacher)? Why not give handmade cards of encouragement to church members. Note how they do something, say their faithfulness in attendance, or helping others in need, or always smiling, etc., and give them a note on how blessed you are as you watch them exercise their gift.
What is your "measure of faith"? As you mature in Christ, you should be able to also grow in faith and expand and mature your gift. As a "steward-in-training", exercise your gift in small things, and as the Holy Spirit prompts you and you grow in grace and in knowledge of Christ, exercise your gift more fully.
Strive to know God's will for your life and use of your gift. Some things are obvious as we obey Scripture. For example, we know not to be unequally yoked in marriage, business, and other endeavors, We don't need divine inspiration to know not to covet, lie, steal, gossip, etc. But what of a life's calling? Mission field, or mission at home? Marry or remain single to serve Him more fully? Job in town or miles away? These require prayer, sometimes fasting, and wisdom from the Lord.
Continuing the rest of the Romans passage:
1.
Prophecy:
"whether prophecy,
let us prophesy
according to the proportion of
faith;" (Romans 12:6b)."
Let
love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is
evil; cleave to that which is good" (Romans 12:9). A good steward of the gift of prophecy will treat all situations and persons equally "without dissimulation" and will work to only hold on to that which is good, holy, and right and will reject and eject that which is evil that either is in or tries to get into his/her life.
2.
Serving:
"Or ministry,
let us wait
on
our
ministering:" (Romans 12:7a). "
Be
affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;" (Romans 12:10). A good steward of the serving gift does so with kind affection (Strong's G5387) (Greek word is
philostorgos
a compound word of
philo
- brotherly love, and
storge
- regard for one's kindred. It means to act affectionatly
as one would to your family members. Giving honor to them and putting their needs before your own when possible.
3.
Teaching:
"or he that teacheth on teaching;" (Romans 12:7b). "Not slothful in
business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;" (Romans 12:11). The teaching gift user must not study the Word just for his/her own pleasure (as they often do) but remember that they are to be serving the Lord and sharing the truths and insights they have gained with the body. Remember the discussion includes the reference to all these gifts being given for the edification of the body. He/she must not be slothful and do sloppy study and fail to verify Scripture with Scripture. Too many hear a "thing" from some source where a verse may be taken out of context and totally misinterpreted, and they then pass it along as truth without checking it out like the noble Bereans.
4.
Exhortation:
"Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation:" (Romans 12:8a). "Rejoicing
in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;" (Romans 12:12). Such a one who exhorts must be able to say encouraging words as well as rebukes (always in love) when needed, and take the rejection or reaction when it happens with patience - not "dusting their feet off" of the one they are serving - assuming they are a believer also. Give a word of hope especially if you must exhort someone to do more "love and good works." This brother or sister who is an exhorter must also be a prayer warrior as they need to get their exhortation marching orders from the Commander before they exercise their gift.
5.
Giver:
"he that giveth,
let him do it
with simplicity;" (Romans 12:8b). "Distributing
to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality" (Romans 12:13). This person has what I would call a pleasant gift in that it is indeed more blessed to give than to receive. He/she looks for ways to meet the needs of the saints. They can and should be hospitable and without an eye on how those they serve can give back. In fact, it is better if they cannot give back in kind. This person need not always give money but goods that may be sorely needed. A few bags of groceries left on a the doorstep, a needed appliance, a tool to replace their broken one that they need for work, pay for classes for some young person trying to learn a trade, and so on. Keep it simple and discreet.
6.
Ruler/Organization:
"he that ruleth, with diligence;" (Romans 12:8c). "Bless them
which persecute you: bless, and curse not" (Romans 12:14). A steward of this gift must be careful to exercise it when asked or understood by others that your gift is needed. When asked or appointed, do what you do diligently as did Joseph in ruling over Egypt and overseeing the grain management. If done today, I see Joseph using MS Project, Excel spreadsheets, links to all those under him at the various granaries, methods to tally the incomes and outflows, etc. Diligent management to ensure the work was done right, fairly, and morally. When and if others react to your organization - bless them and do not get upset because you will be vindicated by a job well done and blessed with greater and greater jobs. (Joseph experienced exactly that.)
7.
Mercy:
"he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:8d). "Rejoice with
them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15). My experience with mercies is that they easily weep with those who are suffering but have a hard time rejoicing with those who have good fortune. Are they jealous? No - but almost always when someone is rejoicing, the mercy finds the one in the crowd who is suffering. A steward of this gift must be able to do both and hardest of all - be cheerful while doing it. Visit those in prison, hospitals, etc. Visit those at weddings, graduations, promotions, reuniting moment, and wherever suffering and rejoicing is taking place and God has placed them in your path. P.S. Don't confuse the weeping prophet like Jeremiah with the weeping mercy - very different gifts and purposes.
Paul finishes this discussion with the following stewardship advice:
of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to
Be of the same mind, persuasion, principals, convictions, thoughts, and understandings
Mind not high things - be humble and don't get prideful because of the gift that you have. Remember that is a gift to you from God and really belongs to Him.
Condescend to those of low estate. Condescend may not mean what you think. It is the Greek word
synapago
which means carry off together, work together,
literally sync together (Wordsearch's Strong's G4879). Be a partner with those who are not as well off as you may be. It is a picture of the boss of a large company hearing about the stock room falling behind schedule and the boss takes off his/her coat, rolls up the sleeves, and jumps in to help
as if he/she were
Finally - let's not become wise in our own conceits. As we mature, grow, and our ministry expands - remember who really owns that gift you have - and purpose to be the best steward of that gift that you can be.
Remember whom you serve! God bless you!
Be
"
(Strong's
- effect
members one of another. Having then gifts [
kindly
men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits" (Romans 12:16).
Strong's Talking Greek_Hebrew Dictionary.
Wordsearch. (2020).
Strong, J.
Wordsearch Bible. [computer software] . Nashville, TN: LifeWay Christian Resources. (Original work published 1890)
one of the stock crew.