Articles

Articles

Faithfulness is Required

Faithfulness is Required

“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1Corinthians 4:1-2). “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1Peter 4:10). In these two passages the apostles and other Christians are referred to as ministers and stewards. In the passage from First Peter the scriptural meaning of the word “minister” is suggested by using it as a verb instead of a noun as in the passage from First Corinthians. A minister is one who ministers. A “good minister” is one who teaches the gospel of Christ faithfully (1Timothy 4:6). There seems to be a tendency in the church today to use this word as a title in much the same way as the denominations use the word “pastor.” Such a use is foreign to the New Testament usage. “Minister” is a descriptive term and not a title.

Likewise, the word “steward” is a descriptive term for the work that each Christian is to do and not a title of office. Its basic meaning is the manager of a household or of household affairs (Thayer's Greek Lexicon, p.441). The Lord has given the gospel of Christ to earthen vessels (2Corinthians 4:7). So we who are Christians are ministers and “stewards of the mysteries of God.”  God does His work of spreading the gospel here on earth through us. If His work is not done it is our fault, for God “hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2Peter 1:3).

Since Christians have such a great responsibility it is not surprising that God would require that each of them be found faithful. Faithfulness is as much a command of God as baptism is. Without faithfulness baptism is to no avail. If we expect a home in Heaven we must be faithful to God. “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).  “Who then is that faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made the ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods” (Matthew 24:45-47).

Our faithfulness cannot be determined by our piety nor by what others are doing. Neither can we set our own standard of what faithfulness is nor use a standard set by another person or group of people. Our faithfulness must be determined by God's standard as indicated in the following: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment; yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by (against in the Revised Version) myself; yet am I not hereby justified; but he that judgeth me is the Lord” (1Corinthians 4:3-4). Notice that these are the verses following the ones at the beginning of this article. That makes it clear that Paul was referring to judging our faithfulness.

God is the only competent judge of faithfulness. He has revealed His judgment in the pages of the New Testament. How does your life compare with the judgment of God? Are you faithful? Remember that this is not arbitrary but it is a command of God.

Elam B. Kuykendall
(The Admonisher, December 1, 1974)