1 Corinthians 4:2
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
This is a principle approved alike of God and man. Stewardship implies responsibility, and responsibility demands faithfulness. The principle is applicable specially to the ministry of the Word. No responsibility like that of those who are called to keep watch and guard over the mysteries of God, to minister in Christ's Name the richest treasures of his grace. Note St. Paul's own profound sense of his responsibility. It was a comparatively "small thing" to him to be "judged of man's judgment;" but the consciousness of the righteous judgment of God was always present with him, and the anxiety to approve himself to him as one who "needed not to be ashamed" was perhaps the deepest and strongest emotion he knew. And the principle may be applied to everything that distinguishes us personally among men, and that puts any power for good into our hands (Parables of the Unjust Steward, of the Talents, etc.). Intellectual capacity, educational advantages, wealth, social position, power of speech, any kind of artistic or constructive skill, vigour of physical health, abundance of leisure time, - these and such as these are endowments that put the possibility of incalculable good within our reach, and for the use of which we must give account. All human life is a sacred stewardship. In every position in which Providence has placed us our fidelity is being put to the test, our loyalty to God and to conscience, to the eternal principles of truth and righteousness, to the sovereign authority of the Law of Christ. It is required of us that we should be faithful always and in everything. And if at heart we are faithful men, it will be seen to be so. Observe respecting this stewardship -
I. THAT IT IS INDEPENDENT OF WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF THE POSITIONS WE OCCUPY AND THE MATTERS WITH WHICH WE HAVE TO DEAL. What we call the trivial and commonplace affairs of life are quite as effectual a test of moral faithfulness as the greater; often more so. We are prone to treat lightly what seem to us to be "little things," and for that very reason they are often the truest revealers of our character. Our real dispositions come out most clearly in the way in which we deal with them, because then our behaviour is most spontaneous, unpremeditated, free from artifice. If you want to know what a man really is, don't judge of him as he appears on the broad open platform of public life, but follow him into his more private ways, and see how he speaks and acts when he feels himself to be beyond the ear and eye of the world, and in matters on which no great consequence seems to hang. It is quite possible to raise a purely artificial standard of moral obligation, and to magnify unwisely certain scruples of conscience. But a really conscientious man will be conscientious in everything. And as a feather or a straw will show which way the stream is flowing, so do the trivial circumstances of life reveal the moral drift of our being. (Note the bearing of this on the probation to which Adam was subject: "Thou shalt not eat," etc.) What is daily life to every one of us but a series of silent tests of our inward fidelity? We are hedged in by little restrictions, called to take upon us manfully the burden of many unwelcome duties; to suffer many abstinences, rebukes, self mortifications. And when we are disposed to overstep the boundary, because at certain points it seems so narrow or so low, we show that we have not learnt the full surrender of the spirit of obedience. "Offending in one point" of the law of our allegiance, we betray a spirit that is "guilty of all." So as regards the right use of faculty and passing opportunities of doing good. The temptations that belong to a low order of personal faculty and a narrow range of personal influence are often greater than those that belong to the highest and the largest. You do nothing because the utmost you can do is so little; or you do carelessly and half heartedly what, as it seems to you, for anything the world would really be the better for it, you might neglect to do at all. The spirit that dictates this is one that would trifle with the loftiest powers and abuse the noblest possibilities of life. "He that is faithful in that which is least," etc. (Luke 16:10).
II. ALL PRACTICAL FIDELITY IN THE STEWARDSHIP OF LIFE HAS A TENDENCY TO DEVELOP INTO HIGHER CAPACITY AND NOBLER DEED. Note here the power of habit. Accustom yourself with an earnest spirit to meet the claims of every day duty as in the Master's sight, and you call to your aid a power and obey a law of life by which the highest moral victories shall ultimately, be won. Let our children be trained to act from principle and not from mere passion or policy, to habits of self surrender, to simple forms of Christian service, and they will become so habituated to the right way that when the heavier responsibilities of life begin to fall upon them they will be prepared bravely to meet them - the "yoke will be easy and the burden light." Thus is it given to us all to educate ourselves for what awaits us in the future. The Jews say of David that "God tried him first with those few sheep in the wilderness, and then, because he faithfully and bravely kept them, took him from the sheepfolds to feed his people Israel." Only use manfully whatever moral power you possess, and you need not fear any strain that shall ever be put upon it. Cast yourself freely upon your faith, and though it be now but as a "grain of mustard seed," it shall be mighty enough one day "to remove mountains."
III. SUCH FIDELITY LEADS TO BLESSED ISSUES IN THE GREAT FUTURITY. It is not given to us to trace the path of moral threes very far in this world. Our judgments are often at fault, our forecasts often strangely falsified. Only very imperfectly and with cautious hesitating steps can we follow the winding and widening stream of earthly issues. And who shall say how some of the unnoticed doings of every human life, and the results that grow out of them, will appear in the all revealing light of the day when "God will bring every work into judgment and every secret thing, whether it be good or bad"? But of this we may be perfectly well assured, that to a lifelong endeavour to serve and please the Lord Jesus Christ there must be a blessed eternal reward. Let our life be a faithful one, a work faithfully wrought out in his Name, and we need not fear but that it will prove itself to be a life worth living and that ends well "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.