God’s Non-Negotiable Condition
1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
Intro: Let’s be honest. God is not real particular about who He uses. Throughout the Scriptures, God used shepherds as much as He used kings. He used cupbearers, farmers, fishermen, tax collectors, soldiers, widow women, boys, girls, you name it – He uses anybody.
Look at I Cor. 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
God can use people that do not know anything – John 9
God can use people that haven’t been saved long – John 4
God can use people that are not Bible scholars – Acts 18:24
God can use people that make mistakes – Matt. 16:23
But God cannot use servants that are unreliable and unfaithful.
God’s NON-NEGOTIABLE CONDITION for stewards is FAITHFULNESS.
A steward is a person that is put in a position of leadership.
DEFINITION of STEWARD: oikonomos oy-kon-om’-os
the manager of household or of household affairs; esp. a steward, manager, superintendent (whether free-born or as was usually the case, a freed-man or a slave) to whom the head of the house or proprietor has intrusted the management of his affairs, the care of receipts and expenditures, and the duty of dealing out the proper portion to every servant and even to the children not yet of age; the manager of a farm or landed estate, an overseer
I. The Accountability of Stewards
Faithfulness is our way of proving ACCOUNTABILITY.
Without faithfulness, there is no accountability.
As a servant leader, you and I MUST be accountable to each other.
Being a leader or servant of Christ demands accountability.
Notice Paul’s emphasis on this:
- Verse 1 – Let a man so account of us
- Verse 2 – required…be found (who is looking?)
- Verse 3 – found faithful – who defines faithful?
- Verse 3 – I should be judged of you
- Verse 3 – I should be judged of man’s judgement
- Verse 3 – I judge not mine own self
NOTE: If my co-laborers judge me as unfaithful, then I am unfaithful.
If I am not there to share in the load, and in the burden, then I am not faithful.
If people that are depending on me have to look around for me or don’t know where I am, I am unfaithful.
If someone has to take my place because I am not where I am supposed to be, I am unfaithful.
If I am in the bus ministry, and I choose to miss bus visitation and leave it to my fellow-workers, I am unfaithful.
If I am a worker in the RU, and I opt to sit at home, I will be judged by my brethren as unfaithful.
If I am in the choir, and I don’t come to choir practice, I will be judged by my director and fellow choir members…
If I am a soulwinner, and I don’t show up for soulwinning, I am being unfaithful.
If I am an usher, and I’m not in my place doing my job, I will be judged by the Head Usher and other ushers as unfaithful.
If I am a staff member and I show up late and don’t pull my fair share of the load, I will be judged as unfaithful.
If I am the pastor and spend all my time fishing and golfing and eating out and sleeping in, I will be judged as unfaithful.
I DON’T GET TO JUDGE MYSELF – I WILL BE JUDGED OF YOU!!
- Proverbs 25:19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.
- Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
If I get in the pulpit and I’ve downloaded somebody else’s message outline and didn’t study – I will be judged.
If you are a Sunday School teacher and you only come to church when you are teaching a class, you will be judged!
If you are lazy and unprepared and disengaged and half-hearted and distracted and lukewarm – you will be judged!
YOU DON’T GET TO JUDGE YOURSELF – YOU WILL BE JUDGED BY THOSE AROUND YOU DEPENDING ON YOU!
My excuses, my reasons, my explanations, my defense, my evidence is INADMISSIBLE.
That is what accountability is all about – giving others the permission to judge you.
I do not have veto power on whether or not I am faithful.
I must – it is REQUIRED that I am found faithful.
That is a verdict – and it is not my own verdict, but the verdict of those judging me.
FOUND (Greek) – heurisko hyoo-ris’-ko – after searching, to find a thing sought
without previous search, to find (by chance), to fall in with those who come or return to a place to find by enquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, to find out by practice and experience
I do not have a biblical defense for insisting that I am faithful if those around me judge and find me unfaithful.
I also do not have a biblical defense for failure to be accountable.
I am a steward.
It is not my church – it is God’s church.
It is not my ministry – it is God’s ministry.
It is not my work – it is God’s work.
My work – my labor – my effort – my contribution MUST BE ABLE TO ENDURE THE FIRE of testing. SEE I COR. 3:13, 14
II. The Adversity of Stewards
Paul was aware of the many misconceptions that abound toward those in ministry.
Paul repeatedly reminded the church of Corinth that serving the Lord wasn’t an “elite” position.
Being in the ministry wasn’t like being a celebrity, or creating a cult following.
Look at I Cor. chapter 3:1-9
Paul reminded them that being a servant of God wasn’t a position of popularity.
It wasn’t about personalities.
It wasn’t about prestige.
He STRONGLY discouraged them from glorying in men – SEE VERSE 21
Then he began to illustrate to them the difference in those that were in ministry, and those that weren’t.
See verse 8-13 to see the long list of differences between those in ministry and those NOT:
Paul went into great detail to illustrate to them the UNGLAMOUROUS aspects of ministry.
Paul went into great detail to paint an accurate picture of what it means to TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW.
The inside scoop of ministry is this – it is not easy, it is not always fun, it is not glamourous, it is not always appreciated, it is not always recognized, it is not always respected.
BUT – God’s non-negotiable condition is that we remain faithful anyway!
- When we are made a spectacle to the world, we stay faithful.
- When we look like fools, we stay faithful.
- When we are weak, we stay faithful.
- When we are despised, we stay faithful.
- When we hunger, and thirst, and are naked, we stay faithful.
- When we are buffeted, we stay faithful.
- When we have no certainties and forfeit our securities, we stay faithful.
- When we labor and are reviled, we bless those that revile us and we stay faithful.
- When we are persecuted, we suffer through it and we stay faithful.
- When we are defamed and lied about and falsely accused, we pray for those doing it and we stay faithful.
- When we made as the filth of the world and are the offscouring of all things, we stay faithful.
There is no such thing as convenient service.
If you are looking for a padded cross; a Lazy-Boy position to fill, THERE ARE NONE!
Every ministry, every area of service requires both blood, sweat and tears.
Every ministry will drain you of energy.
Every ministry will create mental and emotional challenges.
Every ministry will demand time, money, planning, elbow-grease, organization of your time.
Every ministry will require 100% effort and 100% dedication.
There are no ministries positions that only require minimal participation and minimal ownership.
The Apostle Paul was very clear – there are spectators, and there are spectacles.
You will either be in the group watching people do all the work, or you will be the crowd that is doing all the work.
III. The Admonition of Stewards
A. Be Loyal – vs. 15
Paul reminded them in verse 14, 15 that his motives as their instructor/teacher is like that of a father.
His instruction was going to be unique in that he had a special love for them; a unique relationship.
Paul stressed to them the unique influence that he had in their life, and urged them to listen.
He understood the possibility that his warnings and his instruction could be perceived as “shaming” them.
Shaming is one thing; warning and unfiltered instruction is another.
Give God’s man the benefit of the doubt when he preaches/teaches something that makes you look bad.
He is not trying to “talk down to you” or embarrass you – he is doing what parents to do their children – training!
SEE I Thess. 2:7-11
B. Be Teachable – vs. 16, 17
Paul is not elevating himself as the ultimate Christian.
Paul is not setting himself up for “preacher-worship”.
Paul is urging these Corinthian Christians to allow him to be an influence and a guide in their life.
They were struggling with a number of issues.
They were not acting like Christians in many areas.
They needed someone to help them get past these hangups and past this carnal way of living, and serve the Lord.
Paul was put there in that position BY GOD.
They needed to take advantage of it.
Notice how important this was to Paul.
He sent Timothy to the church to “bring you into remembrance of my ways”.
In multiple places the Apostle Paul did not hesitate to set himself as an example.
- 1 Corinthians 4:16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
- 1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
- Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
C. Be Humble – vs. 18-21
Paul warned them that their attitude would determine which tactic of teaching he would employ.
Paul gave them a heads up.
He wasn’t even there, but he predicted that some of them would get a bad attitude about what he was saying.
He knew that there would be some that would get puffed up – proud, defensive, feelings hurt, moody, feel victimized.
Paul wasn’t too worried about them.
He just told them that he wasn’t going to be too worried about the words of the puffed up crowd, but the power.
In other words, Paul said he wasn’t going to listen to what they had to say, he wanted to see what they were doing.
Excuses, explanations, exemptions were not important to Paul – he wanted to see action and results.
Paul said – the kingdom of God is not in words, but in power.
Talk is cheap. Action and results is all that matters.
NOTE his warning in verse 21 – What do you say? It is your call!
I can either come bringing a rod – meaning strong rebuke, correction, reproof.
Or – he said he could come in love and in a spirit of meekness.
Your attitude as a ministry servant leader will determine our relationship.
Either I will be the bad guy swinging a club or I can be your friend showing and helping you be a better servant.
Paul left that up to the individual, based on their attitude.
Their failure to do their job wasn’t going to keep him from doing HIS JOB.
And their attitude wasn’t going to keep him from doing HIS JOB.