August 3, 2022
Good service comes from great stewards.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.
1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, 1 4:1 Some manuscripts add for us; some for you arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory 2 4:14 Some manuscripts insert and of power and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 3 4:18 Greek where will the ungodly and sinner appear?
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
God gave each of us unique abilities, and He wants us to use them to impact others. Today's key verse describes moving from simply "having gifts" to making an impact—by becoming "good stewards" of our gifts.
What is a steward? A steward is someone who oversees the resources of a household. (Some translations use "managers" instead of "stewards" in this verse.) A steward doesn't own the house or its inhabitants' possessions. But like Joseph in the household of Potiphar (Genesis 39), a steward manages the owner's possessions on the owner's behalf.
That means God's command to "steward" our gifts is very meaningful (and a big responsibility). He sees our special abilities as things He owns and wants us to manage excellently. We don't just "have" these gifts; we must steward them well so they deeply glorify God and powerfully benefit other people. So how can we do that?
Great stewards identify what God has entrusted to them. Have you recognized your spiritual gifts, your natural talents, and the experiences and passions that prepare you to serve others? (If not, see the Discussion section below.)
Great stewards celebrate what God has given. Are you grateful for how God has made and prepared you—as opposed to wishing you had other gifts or experiences? God formed your life in a particular way for a particular impact! He made you "fearfully and wonderfully" (Psalm 139:14). Celebration is called for!
Great stewards grow their gifts. Matthew 25:14-30 describes people who took what their Master entrusted and either squandered it or grew it. (There was no in-between.) God has entrusted you with experiences, talents, passions, and spiritual gifts. However, using them well requires learning, practice, and growth. As long as abilities remain "raw" instead of mature, they can't be used as effectively.
Great stewards use their gifts powerfully. Peter provides two categories that cover most forms of impact: "speaking" and "serving" (1 Peter 4:11). In both cases, he describes using gifts with gusto: by speaking on God's behalf, or by serving in the strength of God. Either way, there's a sense of powerful—even supernatural—impact.
1. Which of the four marks of a great steward comes most easily for you? Which one do you struggle with the most?
2. Have you examined how God has made you? Do you recognize your spiritual gifts, natural talents, key experiences, and inward passions for serving others? If not, you can learn more about spiritual gifts here. Watermark's Shape Survey is also a good way to reflect on (and, if you're local to Dallas or Rockwall, let us know about) your abilities and opportunities to impact others.
3. Investing in growing your gifts is a spiritual discipline. What is one way you can work on growing in an area of natural talent or spiritual gifting? (Options include studying related themes in the Bible, learning practical skills, getting mentored, finding opportunities to practice using it, etc.)
4. Every Watermark Member agrees to serve in some regular, ongoing way. If you're not currently serving in this way, what is one step you can take this week to start simply—but simply start? This could include looking for a great volunteer role, emailing a few ministries you're interested in serving with, or talking with your community group about good options (and asking them to hold you accountable to getting started).
5. If you are currently serving, has your impact gone beyond "checking the box" to "maximizing your ministry"? Would your community group and others say that your gifts are being used in the best ways they currently can be?