A steward has authority only to enact the the King’s will. We must use our spiritual gifts to share His grace through sacrificial servanthood as Jesus did.
As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)
We’re commanded to take the bread and the cup regularly as a reminder of Christ, until He returns. This beautiful act of worship is also one of unity – the body of Christ celebrating Him as one. In essence, it’s reminding us His body and blood were shed for all. In communion, we share His body and blood as a reminder of His sacrifice for each one of us. But it’s also a reminder that, as His body, we are to continue His legacy of sacrificial service. We are His body, and our job is to steward, or share, His boundless grace. It’s God’s principle of multiplication at work. He multiplies Christ’s work through His body. To share in the body and blood of Jesus isn’t some super-spiritual exercise. It’s a commitment to full identification.
A steward does not own what he is given.
The kingdom of God is a monarchy, not a democracy. The King entrusts a steward with certain responsibilities. In this case, it’s our spiritual gifts. Each of us is given various gifts, and our responsibility is to share them or minister them to others. We do not own them and they are not given solely for our pleasure or self-provision. The reality is that a gift exercised on behalf of God will seldom manifest for our own gratification. More often than not, we may actually feel that the gifts intrude on ‘me time.’ While the exercise of gifts in a godly way does brings blessings of its own, they are seldom of the self-satisfaction kind. Service in the kingdom of God entails responsibility and the constant sacrifice of self. Stewardship means to exercise authority or management on behalf of the King.
We must remember that Jesus laid no claim to anything, whether spiritual or worldly. He had no possessions, no home, and always stated that He came to do what the Father commanded. As the Son of God, we can naturally expect that He would act in the authority of God. But we lose sight of the truth that, on earth, Jesus was the Son of Man. He was wholly and absolutely human. He laid aside His glory and majesty and became a man. His purpose, as today’s verse reminds us, was to share the grace of God with a fallen world. Though He came as a steward of all the gifts of grace – the spiritual gifts now given to the church – He did not own them. His was a sacrificial ministry. He crucified self in every respect in order to minister God’s grace to humanity.
The authority and responsibility of a steward.
It’s a wonderful thought that as His body, we also carry His authority. There are plenty of teachings around on using the authority of Christ, but a lot of these neglect the critical truth behind it. Authority is not a right, but a privilege as ‘heirs in Christ.’ It’s not something we can either expect or demand. More importantly, authority carries the full weight of responsibility and accountability. The authority of a steward is God-given and should never be taken lightly. It’s the authority to act as the King would and in His name. That’s no small thing. But it doesn’t mean we decide and then put His stamp or seal on our actions. It means we do only what He has commanded. The authority of a steward is defined by his responsibility to enact the will of the King. Our opinions or preferences simply do not enter into it.
To partake in the body and blood of Christ means to identify fully with His responsibilities, His sacrifice, and His sufferings. In essence, a steward does not exist in his own personal identity. He represents the identity of the King. The crucial purpose of Christ was that of breaking and pouring out of self as a living testimony to the God’s grace. All the gifts He manifested while on earth are now given to the church as His body with the same purpose of breaking and pouring out self. We cannot measure the privilege and responsibility of our calling to manifest the grace of God to the world. We can only exercise the authority to do so if we exercise the responsibility to do so as God commanded. The first responsibility of the steward is absolute surrender to the authority of the King. Only then will true authority manifest.
The purpose of a steward is action.
Peter does not deliberate whether anyone has or has not received a gift. He states very clearly that all have. Each one who comes into the kingdom is given a gift for the purpose of ministering God’s grace. It’s cut and dried and there is no room for confusing theological debate. The issue is not receiving the gift but exercising it. Each one means each one. We have, each one of us, received. But he found it necessary to teach action – to remind us that we must exercise it. A good steward, as we see in the parables of Christ, doesn’t bury the gift. He steps out in faith in the authority of the King and puts it to work. Action is the fundamental purpose of every steward, and it’s always sacrificial action. God’s grace is always manifest through sacrifice.
The miracles of feeding the 4- and 5 000 have something to contribute here. The gifts were given – loaves and fishes. But it was only when they were broken and shared that the miracle happened. The grace only reached and benefited the multitude when Christ acted to break and share the gift. Again, it beautifully illustrates God’s simple principle of multiplication. In Christ, who was broken, one became many to reach and feed many. This is what the breaking of the bread reminds us of. Always, the sacrifice of Christ – the breaking of His body – comes first. We are His body which was broken. As a steward, this is a critical truth. He was broken so that the parts could be used. If we are to be effective in ministering the gifts we are given, action is required. The action is breaking and sharing – self-sacrifice and servanthood.
A steward of grace.
We walk in the footsteps of our Master, and the path we follow is through the cross. There is no other way. We are not stewards of His authority but rather stewards of His grace – that same grace manifest by Christ. The authority is to testify to the authenticity of our stewardship. It is secondary, a tool rather than the purpose. We only have authority through our willingness to share fully in Christ’s broken body and shed blood. Each of us will be called to account for how we steward the gifts we are given. If we do not use them, or if we use them for any purpose other than revealing the grace of God, we stand on dangerous ground. We have no justification or standing in Christ. Every spiritual gift is a gift of grace to be shared sacrificially by each part of the broken body of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, help us, as we remember You through the breaking of the bread, that Your servanthood is also ours. Grant us a new and deeper understanding of Your grace, and stir us up to surrender and servanthood. Remind us that Your spiritual gifts are the manifestation of Your grace and not ours to steward as we choose. Forgive us for prevarication or presumption. Help us to give ourselves willingly and completely in Your service, sharing Your eternal, limitless grace in all things.