The Faithful Servant is a Steward of Grace
"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:23)
When we read the parable of the faithful servant, we rightly want to be among those to whom the master acclaims at the end of the age "Well done, good and faithful servant!" One thing that struck me as I pondered this passage is that the master will not say "Well done, you who are saved." No, the master does not applaud those who merely received the gracious gift - he applauds those who DID something with the gracious gift.
Although I knew the message of being a good steward, it really hadn't crossed my mind how central the message of stewardship is in the Bible. Certainly the overarching message of the Bible is God's gracious love toward mankind, but inseparably linked to the message of grace is the message of stewardship. When God blesses mankind with gifts, it is not just so that the receiver can enjoy the gifts. Gifts are given with a purpose.
When God put Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden it wasn't just so they could enjoy endless grapes and cuddly kittens.
"God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it." (Genesis 1:28) Adam and Eve were made stewards over the whole earth - they and their future offspring. God gave them a gift and expected a fruitful return.
Unfortunately, we know the end of that story. Instead of spreading blessing and order to the whole earth, they became the doorway of disorder and earthly corruption.
The story of stewardship continued with Israel. God chose Israel from amongst all the possible people groups of the earth to be His chosen people. God blessed Israel with a fruitful land, with the Law to guide them, and with the promise of protection. Yet, these blessings were not just so Israel could get fat in a land of milk and honey. God's intention was for Israel to be a light to the surrounding nations. These nations would see the blessings on Israel and come to know the true God.
Unfortunately, that did not work out so well either. Instead of influencing the surrounding nations with the knowledge of the truth, Israel became influenced themselves and constantly turned to serve other gods.
It would be a mistake to view the gifts of God's Son and of the Holy Spirit separately from the call to stewardship. We are not made partakers of God's divine gifts strictly for our own benefit.
In Peter's second epistle he begins by teaching the saints that they have become partakers of the divine nature through God's precious promises. Peter's very next instructions are for the church to "make every effort to respond to God's promises" by diligently growing in the qualities of Christ with the assurance that "they render you neither useless nor unfruitful."
The call to stewardship is clear. God has blessed us with many blessings. Our response must be to cultivate these blessings, just as Adam and Eve were called to cultivate the ground, so that we might bear fruit for God.
Just as the faithful steward in the parable can expect the tribute "well done, good and faithful servant," Peter reassures that God will reward the faithful servant with "a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
What are you doing with the gifts and talents the Lord has blessed you with? Are you cultivating them towards fruitfulness? The Christian life is not about holding tightly to a seed until you get to heaven. It is about planting that seed and watching over it with diligence and care for the benefit of those around you.