September 20, 2015
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
Joyful Stewardship, 1 Peter 4:7-11
1 Peter 4:7-11 shows us what stewardship really is and how it fits together with joy. Although Peter is writing here to Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor who are actually suffering for their faith, he is encouraging them to find joy in their stewardship.
Three Observations about Stewardship in 1 Peter 4:7-11
1. Definition: Exactly what is stewardship?
Stewardship is often spoken about as relating to money in the Bible, especially in Jesus’ parables. As recorded in the New Testament, Jesus actually talked more about money than about heaven or hell because He knew that use of money is a sign of where a person’s loyalty really lies.
Yet in 1 Peter 4:7-11, Peter shows us with examples that stewardship has a much broader definition, including hospitality, preaching/teaching and serving (1 Peter 4:9-11). The Grace Community Church Stewardship Committee recognizes that stewardship is a large concept, and has identified six areas of Christian stewardship: talent, time, presence, prayer, relationships, and treasure.
Christian stewardship includes all the resources and responsibilities that God has entrusted to us. It includes all the gifts (material and spiritual) and abilities, which enable us to help build up the Church. We have a responsibility to use and manage all the resources God has placed in our care, e.g.: our money, our possessions, our talents, our marriage, our singleness, our personalities, our spare time, our prayer life, our relationships, etc.
2. Attitude: Stewardship should be exercised joyfully.
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9). Here we learn that God wants us to be joyful with hospitality, but Paul expands this example to “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, Rejoice!’ ” (Philippians 4:4) and that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Even though it might be difficult, are we helping to build God’s kingdom by joyfully using our resources/gifts/talents/responsibilities that we have for God’s glory?
3. Crux of the matter: What is the key to joyful stewardship?
How do we actually do this? The key is knowing who the owner is. It is recognizing that God is the one giving us these gifts; it is not just about us, and what we possess or can do. God entrusts all that we are and have to us as Christians.
Two examples from 1 Peter 4:11
- Speaking and preaching the words of God are not ours, but gifts of God. Do not worry so much about speaking perfectly; instead ask, “Is this the message God wants me to give?”
- If God calls you to serve, serve in the strength that God gives you instead of working in your own strength and trying to fix everything.
We give money because we see God’s faithful provision to us, and we want to reflect it back to Him.
God’s ownership, of all that we are and have, frees us to be joyful because:
- It does not cost us to share.
- What I have is enough.
- He should get all the praise. It’s not all about me. God is the real owner and I can be joyful!
Prayer: Father, we offer our gratitude for Your being so kind to us materially (especially in the U.S.), for our skills, our relationships, etc. We do not belong to ourselves, but we belong to You, and we want to live in a way that expresses Your Lordship in our lives. All these things we can use as stewards for Your Kingdom so that You will be glorified (1 Peter 4:11).