Ruth: 2:4-7; Christian's stewardship, part 5.
Title: Ruth: 2:4-7; Christian's stewardship, part 5.
Every believer has a stewardship that is a …
…for a necessary compulsion is pressing down upon me, for woe to me if I do not proclaim the good news. [Wuest expanded NT]
Last night we noted that Paul revered to the compulsory nature of the stewardship to Philemon, but entreated Philemon to make his own decision, by his own free-will.
We also noted from the Lord’s parable of the dinner guests that man believes that he is compelled to do other things, like pursuing wealth, rather than accepting God’s invitation.
We then saw the law of reaping and sowing in the subject of giving. We are not to give under compulsion, but we are to give as we purpose in our own heart. However, we are under compulsion to be gracious. What steward of Jesus Christ would not be called to be super abundantly gracious? So again, we see repeated the same principle that we are under compulsion as our stewardship is our only given course of action, but we are to do it voluntarily. Remember the parable; the master is away at a wedding feast. We do not know when he is going to return, and so we are free to do nothing, or what we want, without immediate consequence, but when the master returns, if we are found to be bad stewards, then there will be no reward, which reward is the master serving and waiting on us.
Next we find the believer being delighted with all the compulsions laid upon him by God.
2Co 12:7 And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me — to keep me from exalting myself!
2Co 12:8 Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
2Co 12:9 And He has said to me [perfect tense: He said it before and it still stands], "My grace is [present tense: always] sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [glory] about my weaknesses (infirmity), that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
The power of Christ is matured in weakness or infirmity. We are forced to see how strong it is or seek another power.
There are other powers in this world besides Christ. They compete for the hearts of men. It is a matter of fact that the other powers will tempt and test us. Because we don’t readily give over to them, they will attack and press harder, causing us some form of infirmity. We could submit to them, seek another remedy offered outside of the plan of God, or we can continue to hold on to the grace of God, white knuckled if need be. If we continue to stand on the principle that God’s grace is sufficient for us, then we will find more and more just how strong the power of Christ is.
2Co 12:10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Weakness (infirmity), insults (attacks against him), distresses (compulsions), persecutions (pursuits against him), difficulties (narrow places - distress from anguish)
In the list of five things that Paul had become content with (eudokeo = to take pleasure or delight in) the third one is compulsions. Rather than react with distress to the things he had to do in the plan of God that were difficult or painful, he had learned to delight in them. God must transform our hearts in order for us to see those parts of our lives in that way.
Paul came to delight or glory in the difficult and painful compulsions of life, rather than reacting to them with distress. We must see the value of our stewardship over and above any infirmity.
There were a lot of hard times in the apostle's life, in all of their lives. There was a lot of opposition and a lot to overcome. Was it worth it? What was the reward?
Think of how much Paul's life has impacted the world. Think about how much it has impacted your own life. What he did really meant something important and God has given the same privilege to every steward. Our lives won't impact as many as Paul's did, but does "how many" really matter? Every life lived in God's light and plan will mean something important.
Rom 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Rom 8:17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
Rom 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
His compulsory life sent the apostle Paul all over the Roman Empire and even into prison, where he writes of his stewardship.
Eph 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles —
Eph 3:2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you;
Eph 3:3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.
Paul's imprisonment was a necessity, and when he came to see that, God's revelation of his life was brought into focus.
Php 1:12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,
Php 1:13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,
Php 1:14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.
If we disagree with the plan of God for our lives and fight to make our own plans, then we are in effect imagining that God needs us to come up with something better than what He has planned for us.
Generally, disagreeing with the plan of God as a Christian comes in two categories.
Lust for another life – think it’s best, lack concern for God’s glory and others.
Sincerely want the plan of God, but a different one – giving God something He didn’t have (this deserves a reward).
If we are simply lusting for another life, then we assume that that life is better for us, and we lack much concern for God's glory and the lives of others. We are self-serving and know nothing of the fulfillment and joy of affecting others and glorifying God.
If we are sincere in that we want to glorify God and live the Christian life, but we are not content with God's will for our particular life, and that He has chosen insufficiently for us in terms of our location, status, place in church and society, spiritual gift etc. If we strive and work to create our own plan, no matter how sincere we are, then we would be offering to Him something that He didn't give to us, and in our insane imaginations, something that He needs. If we could do that and it was actually true that it was better for us then we would deserve a reward. It has to mean that you thought of something that God didn’t or at least made a choice that He couldn’t or refused to.