Stewards of the mysteries of God
1 Corinthians 4 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. 3 But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. 7 For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
8 You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. 9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. 11 To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; 12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13 when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. 21 What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?
Paul begins today’s text saying: Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Like Paul, we should take both of these offices or responsibilities very seriously. We are to be servants of Christ. In Romans 1:1, Paul calls himself a bond-servant of Christ. A bond-servant is one who chooses to serve his master, making a lifelong commitment, free from compulsion. We too are bond-servants, not forced to serve because God give us each a free will. Rather we choose to serve with good reason, as 1 John 4:19 says: We love, because He first loved us. We also serve Him because He served us. Philippians 2:4-8 says: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. So our love service for and to Christ is not something we boast in. It is simply our response to His love and service for us. That we would serve others as we serve Christ is more than what we do for them, although as we serve we do things for others. The main purpose of our service to others is that they would come to know Christ’s love and His service, demonstrated in the cross.
Paul says also though that we are stewards of the mysteries of God. A steward is one who looks after or manages the affairs or distributes the accounts of another. We then are to be managers, we are to look after and distribute the mysteries of God. The mysteries of God are the realities of the kingdom of heaven. It is the realities of the kingdom of heaven and all the promises of God which we are to manage and distribute to others. Again the first mystery, the first reality we are to share with others is the mystery that: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”(John 3:16) It is a mystery because we didn’t get what we deserved, but instead because of God’s love we are blessed with eternal life. The mysteries of God are more though than eternal life. The realities of the kingdom of heaven, which we are to steward to the earth are meant to change the realities, the circumstances of earth. Jesus taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” When Jesus was on the cross He said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) All that He came to do was accomplished and finished in the cross. Both salvation; eternal life and victorious abundant life are the realities, the mysteries of God we are to steward to the earth. Jesus says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18) If we will be stewards of the mysteries of God, signs and wonders will accompany us. The realities of the kingdom of heaven will impact and change the circumstances on earth.
There are many today who fulfill Jesus commandment to preach the gospel, but often the words have little effect. In today’s text Paul says: the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. If we would be servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God, then people’s hearts, their minds and their circumstances should be changed, aligned with the kingdom of heaven. We should love. We should serve. We should demonstrate the power of the cross to the world.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit. I love because You first loved me. I serve in response and as an example of Your service demonstrated in the cross. Through the power of the Holy Spirit may I also steward the mysteries of the kingdom of God, here on earth. Amen.