GOOD STEWARDS OF THE MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD
"Good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1 Peter 4:10
This is another very important relationship in which I stand to the world in which I live. Grace of God! What have I that I have not received from God? All my gifts are of the manifold grace of God. It is grace alone, that one so unworthy possesses anything. My powers of body and of mind, my intellectual and spiritual gifts, my means of influence and attraction in any way, are all gifts of God. Whatever I have, which can be made useful to other people, is a Divine gift, not given to me, but lent for this purpose. All my personal and relative possessions are really loans--talents entrusted to me, for which I am to give an account to God. The only inalienable gift I have, is a Divine Savior. He never will be taken away from me. He is mine--mine forever. Everything else is a loan for a special purpose and object. In the possession of it, I am but a steward for others. I must use all these gifts for their benefit. In this responsible character I stand in the world. What then?
1. I have a special responsibility in the world, and I must fulfill it. I am not here for my own pleasure, but for the Lord's service, and for the benefit of mankind. My whole life is a mission appointed for some good end. Every part of my life is as truly so. Wherever I am, I am there to fulfill my Master's will. He fixes the bounds of my habitation--appoints my line of duty--designates my fields of operation, and bids me to occupy for him until he come. Oh let me use the world, and my life in the world, as a steward of God. Whom can I benefit? Whom can I instruct? Whom can I help, or guide, or save? I ought constantly to be seeking my objects. Each day will bring out some new duty, and some new call. If the love of God is in my heart, and I have a spiritual mind, and a true knowledge of my Savior, I may always be useful, and be useful everywhere. I would realize my Divine appointment and my future responsibility.
2. My stewardship is especially of the grace of God. The salvation of men is the great object and end of my appointed ministry. My outward means and my mental gifts are all intended to produce this great result. In all my relationships, domestic and public, I would have this fact ever before me. What shall it profit any to gain the whole world, and to lose their own souls? To save the souls of men, is an end worthy my labor, and it is the only one that is so. Whom, then, can I teach the great truths which God has taught me? To whom can I dispense the blessings which I have thus received? Whom can I lead to a Savior's feet, or tell of a Savior's love? Oh let me live for God in every relationship and duty of life! Eternity is the one great end and object of my life. I may not be appointed publicly to preach, but I am surely appointed in some way to make known the wonderful goodness and mercy of my God. I would stand before his throne with some precious souls, the attendants and seals of my ministry on the earth. I will not be satisfied with any attainments, unless I can acquire this glorious and happy result.
3. In this peculiar stewardship, I ought to be faithful. Faithful to God, who has called me and qualified me for his service. Faithful to men, with whom I have been placed in connection on the earth. Faithful to the great trust of truth and grace, which has been committed to my charge, and which I am to minister. Fidelity refers to every relationship in which I stand, however temporary. I know not why God may have been pleased to place me for a single hour in connection with others. Their happiness for eternity may rest upon this hour. As a steward of God, I have no hour to waste, I have nothing to throw away. I have nothing to assume for myself. I must be about my Master's business at all times. "Lord, what would you have me to do?" must be the question in my mind, in reference to every particular crisis or relationship of my life. It is not easy to be faithful. There are many temptations to be unfaithful. There is much indolence and selfishness in my own spirit; much distraction in my condition; much sinful and poor example around me. To be faithful, I must be earnest and determined. Oh let me awake to a full consideration of its importance, and waste no more of my Master's goods.
4. I must realize my responsibility to God. A steward must give an account. It must be a strict and an entire account. I know not how soon my own account may be required. Let me keep it ever before me. My house and my heart always in order. Each day's work should be finished with a reference to this final account. Tomorrow I may stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. There I must meet the souls with whom I have been connected. There I must be reminded of the blessings I have enjoyed. There I must recall the opportunities I have had. There I must answer to the Being who searches my heart. Oh that I may be ready. Then my condition will not depend upon the amount which has been entrusted to me; but upon the fidelity of my management of it. He that is faithful in that which is least, is accepted as if faithful in much. How blessed will be an acceptance in that day! One smile from Jesus! What a recompense it will be! How fearful a rejection! Ah, to be sent from Christ. Who can bear it? Let me not hazard the possibility of it.
5. These are manifest properties of my stewardship. My mission from God. To disseminate the knowledge and enjoyment of his grace. Fidelity in the fulfillment of every trust. A constant remembrance of my responsibility in it all to God. Oh may I have grace to accomplish well the great duty and obligation of my life. Let me seek it daily. Let me look to God to give it. Let me earnestly improve it to his glory.
Should I to gain the world's applause,
Or to escape its idle frown,
Refuse to countenance your cause,
And make your people's lot my own;
What shame would fill me in that day
When you your glory will display!