Friday, June 24, 2011

Excuse me, Miss. May I have some more peanuts?

When I think of the word "steward", the only thing that comes to mind is a stewardess.  That's pretty much the only time we hear something close to that word.  But, that name has even been changed.  We have to call them flight attendants, right?  When I think of a good stewardess, she is right there waiting for you at the door and welcoming you as you step on the plane. She is quick to help you lift your luggage into the overhead bins.  She asks you if you need anything.  She gives you extra peanuts or the entire can of Coke.  She patiently helps the little old lady waddle to her seat.  She is very good at serving others, it's her job.

Could you image if you stepped on a plane and she's running around trying to find her uniform, still in her bathrobe?  Her hair still in rollers and her makeup not done.  She starts barking to take your seat because she's trying to get around the crowd to finish getting ready?  She doesn't have any ice for your drinks and there aren't enough peanuts to go around.  People are hungry, irritated, and may feel unsafe with such an unprepared stewardess.  The stewardess becomes flustered and angry at all the complaints she's receiving, she may even forget some procedures thus putting people's lives at risk.  Little does she know, the President of the airline is about to step on the plane.  I think we'd all agree that in any job, being unprepared is a very bad thing.  It's even worse when you're job is to serve others.  Even that much worse when the boss sees that you are unprepared.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a good steward. As Christians, we hear this phrase often. "Be a good steward of your time." What does that phrase mean?

I decided to dig around and see exactly what being a "good steward" means. I thought I should first go to the world's definition of "steward" so I went to Webster's Dictionary of course:

1stew·ard noun \ˈstü-ərd, ˈstyü-; ˈst(y)u̇rd\
Definition of STEWARD

1: one employed in a large household or estate to manage domestic concerns (as the supervision of servants, collection of rents, and keeping of accounts)
2: shop steward
3: a fiscal agent
4a : an employee on a ship, airplane, bus, or train who manages the provisioning of food and attends passengers
b : one appointed to supervise the provision and distribution of food and drink in an institution
5: one who actively directs affairs : manager
Examples of STEWARD:
the steward of their investments
teaching our children to be good stewards of the land

Then I looked at the Synonyms: daily [British], domestic, flunky (also flunkeyor flunkie), lackey, menial, retainer, slavey, servant

What?!  This is what steward means???  Being a slave or a servant?  That can't be what it means!  Let's continue deeper and go to what the Bible's definition of "steward" is.  

Luke 12:35 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38 And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” 
41 Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

WOW!  Do you feel a little convicted right now?  I do.  That is some tough stuff to swallow.  This scripture is saying that we are servants of God!  Not only are we servants to God, but we need to be alert for His return.  He has entrusted us to do His work, to prepare the "house", to keep things in order for when He returns and with that, we are held accountable to those responsibilities.  So if we are to be servants of God, how do we know what He wants us to do while we're waiting for His return?  
Well, I'm glad you asked! 

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers,be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.10 For
“ He who would love life
And see good days,
 Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
11 Let him turn away from evil and do good;
 Let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
 And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.”

Living a godly life sure isn't easy!  We're suppose to have compassion for everyone?  Love everyone?  Not say something crude back if someone offends us or go after them if they've done something wrong to us?  How could I possibly do that?  We are all imperfect people.  We are a result of sin and therefore have a sinful nature.  That is why we need to constantly rely on God to give us the strength and wisdom to follow what He is calling us to do.  We need to guard ourselves with the "helmet of salvation" and the "sword of the spirit which is the Word of God" as it says in Ephesians 6:17.  (AKA Read your Bible!  It is your weapon in this fallen world.  Memorize it to recall it in times of need, you will feel a change.  You will see God changing your heart, making you patient, giving you wisdom to make decisions.)

So, to summarize being a good steward means taking care of these people on the earth while we're here, maybe give someone the whole can of Coke. We are to serve others with an extremely humbled heart (only obtained through God's grace), to be patient, courteous, and loving others like they are our family.  As we read the Word, God's will for our lives will become more and more evident.  Someone at the youth conference this past weekend used a good analogy as to how we are to be good stewards.  This is is analogy:  

What if you were a doctor and you had a patient who's test results just came back saying he has terminal cancer with only a few months to live and you've just discovered a cure for cancer.  When the patient comes to see you, would you say to him, "Hey, how are you?  How's the family?  Everything looks great!  See you next time."  No, you'd say to him, "Man, I'm so sorry to say this but you have terminal cancer.  But, listen, I have awesome news for you to save your life!  I have a cure.  Let me tell you how we can get you better."   That's the same as the Gospel.  We have this news, this key ingredient that our souls long after, and lots of times people don't know it.  We, as servants of Christ, are to be giving away this medicine, this love that heals all things, this Savior that died for us to be SAVED!

Let's be ready when He comes home, guys, so that it will be a joyous prepared occasion rather than scrambling around to get things in order.  Let's be good stewards. 

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