Ruth: 2:4-7; Christian's stewardship part 3.
Title: Ruth: 2:4-7; Christian's stewardship part 3.
Rut 2:5 Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers [the foreman or steward], "Whose young woman is this?"
Rut 2:6 And the servant in charge of the reapers answered and said, "She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab.
Rut 2:7 And she said, 'Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.' Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while."
As we noted, Ruth asked the foreman for privileges that went beyond the normal gleaning, and he granted it to her without having to check with Boaz first. Ruth worked hard all day and only sat in the house to rest for a short time.
The actions of the foreman has led us into a study of Christian stewardship.
We noted the wedding feast parables of Luk 12:35-48. At that time in the Lord's ministry it was becoming clear that Israel was rejecting the kingdom of God brought by Jesus. The earthly kingdom of Israel would have to be postponed until the Second Coming of Christ. In the meantime, the disciples would come to be in charge of the ministry in Jesus' absence, and remember, we are all called to be disciples.
In those parables the Lord made clear that we would not know the time of His return and that we were to be good stewards, meaning that we were to be diligent at the work we were called to and watchful in excited anticipation for the Lord's return.
The Lord stated that the good steward would be given more responsibilities and more work. And, the reward to them would be great.
Luk 12:35 "Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight.
Luk 12:36 "And be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast [could last a few hours or a few days], so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.
Luk 12:37 "Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.
Luk 12:38 "Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
Luk 12:39 "And be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
Luk 12:40 "You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect."
We are to live as if Jesus was right with us all the time, and in fact, He is. If we do we are faithful and the reward is great. He will serve us with ______.
What would you fill in the blank with? If it is something selfish, temporal, or unfit for His glory, then you're not the faithful servant, for if you were sure that the master was not watching you, then you wouldn't do your job, since you are only in it for a personal reward.
The reward of the steward is revealed to us by the apostle Paul.
1Co 9:15 But I have used none of these things [demanded earnings for his work]. And I am not writing these things that it may be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one.
1Co 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
1Co 9:17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.
Voluntarily - as if the stewardship was my idea or that I applied for it. Then I would deserve something else as reward/payment.
Paul is referring to the possibility that he or any believer could have come up with a plan to assist God or to assist God's gospel. Was it Paul's idea to be an apostle to the Gentiles? Did he realize that the other apostles were staying in the Jerusalem area and that God needed help with the rest of the world? If he did so, then he deserves a payment for his services.
Against my will - not of my own will. The stewardship of Paul was created by God and given to Paul. He had no other calling. Our predestination is our only calling and so it is compulsory.
He is not saying that we are forced to walk in our calling. If that were true we would have no free-will to do it, making our lives not lived. The simple fact is that our stewardship was thrust upon us by our loving, all knowing God, and as His children, we now have no other calling. As unbelievers we had no calling, no matter what we thought about it.
None of us have chosen this life that is Christ. We knew nothing about it. It was given to us by Christ, and as regenerate people, we get to learn what that life is, and then we get to chose to live it. No one ever came up with the life or even the idea for the life. Christ brought the life to earth and He died so that we could have it. It doesn't consist of anything material, temporal, or earthly. It is heavenly. It has great meaning. It is love, joy, peace, grace, kindness, forgiveness, honor, courage, goodness, faithfulness, loyalty, gentleness, temperance, wisdom, righteousness, justice, truth, and living for others.
The stewardship, our predestined lives, and the blessings that come with them, all come from heaven. We did not chose them, they were given to us, Eph 1:3.
When you believed in Christ and a ministry was given to you by God - something predetermined, Rom 8:29.
As a child of God, you have no other calling than the stewardship He gave you. You didn't apply for it. So, there is no reward other than doing it freely.
1Co 9:18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
This is a wonderful lesson for the Christian to learn, and one that God has been constantly teaching this congregation for a year or so. If we were to volunteer, choose to do some thing to glorify God, and then give to Him something that He didn't already give to us, then we would have a reward.
But our stewardship, and our plan that consists of our duties for that stewardship, were given to us by the omniscience of God.
We could never give to God anything that He hadn't already given to us. Our only reward is to freely be what we have been compelled to be.
Giving something to God is like a child asking his father for some money in order to buy him a birthday present. Yet we are told that there is reward, but it is not in the earthly sense. If doing the will of God concluded in me receiving a reward then the reward would be greater than the will of God, since it is my end desire, but nothing is greater than the will of God. So then, what is the reward?
Paul states that his reward is to offer the gospel without any care of compensation, in other words, it is to freely do what he has been compelled to do. He desires it more than anything, and so he is willing to suffer, to go without even basic sustenance to do it.
When our will corresponds to God's will in love and desire, the reward is life - a life fulfilled and full of joy beyond imagination.
What joy of fulfillment there is in freely doing what you must do by God's gracious desire. It make you and God partners. It makes your life and His life of the same stuff. It makes your heart and His heart come together in rapturous love.
Such a life sent the apostle Paul all over the Roman Empire and even into prison, where he writes of his stewardship.