The Responsibility & Reckoning of Stewardship

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically today’s passage begins with the first verse of the sixteenth chapter and continues through to the tenth verse of the seventeenth chapter. “And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? For my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig: to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, how much o west thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owes thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owes thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write four score. And the lord commended the unjust steward because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you. Into everlasting habitations. He at his faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much : and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteousness mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? NO servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:1-13). “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presets into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery” (Luke 16:14-18). “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purpose and fine linen, and fare sumptuously every day: and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with he crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, father Abraham, ha very mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:19-31). “Then he said unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offended will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! IT were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:1-4). “And the apostle said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and beg thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Do and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:5-10). HE THAT IS FAITHFUL IN THAT WHICH IS LEAST IS FAITHFUL ALSO IN MUCH! HE THAT IS UNJUST IN THE LEAST IS UNJUST ALSO IN MUCH! IF THEREFORE YE HAVE NOT BEEN FAITHFUL IN THE UNRIGHTEOUSNESS MANNON, WHO WILL COMMIT TO YOUR TRUST THE TRUE RICHES? IF YE HAVE NOT BEEN FAITHFUL IN THAT WHICH IS ANOTHER MAN’S, WHO SHALL GIVE YOU THAT WHICH IS YOUR OWN? NO SERVANT CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS! EITHER HE WILL HATE THE ONE, AND LOVE THE OTHER; OR ELSE HE WILL HOLD TO THE ONE, AND DESPISE THE OTHER! YE CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON! When you come to the words presented in this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus delivering yet another parable unto those who gathered together unto Him to hear and listen to Him speak. What makes the words found in this passage of Scripture so incredibly unique and telling when you take the time to think about it is when you consider that it not only touches on stewardship but it also touches on the tremendous need to be faithful with stewardship and what one has been entrusted with. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding—not only the need to be faithful in one’s stewardship but also the responsibility that surrounds that stewardship. Within this passage of Scripture you can and will be brought face to face with the account of one’s stewardship for stewardship has never and will never come without a reckoning and accounting. It is absolutely impossible to read the words presented here in this text and not come face to face—both with the call for faithfulness in stewardship as well as the reckoning that is directly linked to that which one has been entrusted with in their stewardship. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of that which is presented in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the call to be faithful in and with what one has been entrusted with in this life. Not only this but there is a tremendous need for us to recognize and realize that we cannot have a conversation and/or discussion about stewardship and not also recognize that directly linked to stewardship is the call to be faithful as well as the reckoning that can and will come as a direct result of it. It is absolutely impossible to separate faithfulness and responsibility from stewardship. Despite the many attempts which have failed to separate responsibility from stewardship the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case nor will it ever be. The more you read the four gospel narratives which are present in the New Testament the more you can and will be brought face to face with the incredible truth of just how much emphasis Jesus placed on stewardship. What’s more is that within the gospels you will not only find Jesus placing a great emphasis on stewardship but you will also find Him placing a great deal of emphasis on the responsibility that is directly connected and associated with that stewardship. It is absolutely impossible to read the words presented in any of the four gospels and not encounter the incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus’ words which were spoken—more often than not using parables—to deliver the truth regarding stewardship. In all reality I would dare say that one of the singular and foundational principles of the kingdom is indeed stewardship—and not only stewardship but the call and demand to be found faithful in such stewardship. Within and throughout each of the four gospel narratives you can and will encounter time after time when the Lord Jesus Christ would speak unto His disciples and those who would gather themselves unto Him concerning the responsibility and reckoning of stewardship. THE RESPONSIBILITY & RECKONING OF STEWARDSHIP! In fact within this particular chapter alone you can and will find multiple different examples which Jesus would present unto His disciples and followers concerning stewardship and that which men did with what they were entrusted with in this life. It is within this passage of Scripture we find the parable of the rich man and Lazarus and the failed stewardship of the rich man having one who was a beggar set just outside the gate to his house. OH with this being said I can’t help but wonder how many beggars and how many of those in need are set and placed outside the gates of our houses—and not only outside the gates of our houses but also the gates of our churches. If you turn and direct your attention to the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the narrative of a man who was lame and set outside the gate of the Temple of the Lord. Imagine being this man and sitting outside the gate of the Temple of the Lord and watching as countless men and women of the seed of Abraham would pass by you as they entered into the Temple. Stop and consider how many times this lame man who was set outside the gate called Beautiful at the Temple of the living God would beg and ask for alms of those who would enter into the Temple to worship the living God. In all reality I can’t help but think about a possible link between the man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves who stripped him, wounded him and left him half dead. Within the parable of the good Samaritan the Lord presented two individuals who came to the place where this man who had been stripped, wounded and left dead lie there without anyone displaying or manifesting compassion toward him. Within the parable delivered by Jesus He not only presented a Levite but also a priest—both of which who came to the place where this man lie on the side of the road half dead. What makes the account of the priest and the Levite so incredibly tragic is when you consider the fact that not only did they come to the place where this man lie on the side of the road, and not only did they see his plight and condition but they would both pass by on the other side of the road and continue along their journey. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if both the priest and the Levite were both traveling toward the Temple of the living God in Jerusalem and as a direct result of this were unwilling to stop what they were doing to help this man. Imagine both a priest and a Levite—those who were entrusted with the ministry of the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem—coming across one who was lying on the side of the road half dead and being unwilling to help him. I mention the narrative and account of the parable of the good Samaritan and the priest and the Levite for I can’t help but wonder if both the priest and the Levite came to the place where this man lie half dead and in great need and yet they not only passed by on the other side of the road but continued along their journey. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the priest and the Levite were indeed on their way to the Temple of the living God and were unwilling to potentially defile and make themselves unclean. Is it possible that the priest and the Levite both thought this man was dead or if he wasn’t dead was at least on the verge of being dead and didn’t want to somehow defile and make themselves unclean? Is it possible that the priest and the Levite were unwilling to stop what they were doing and cease their journey that they might take the time to help this particular individual out? Oh I can’t help but wonder if the same priest and Levite who came across and came upon this man lying there half dead on the side of the road and refused to help him out would also see a lame man sitting outside the gate called Beautiful at the Temple and pass by him without so much as acknowledging him? There is a great part of me that can’t help but wonder if what we find in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan was not an indictment against those who were entrusted with the ministry of the Temple and the service of the LORD God and the lack of compassion, grace and mercy that should have been present within their hearts. I can’t help but think about the fact that the same priest and Levite who refused to stop and help a man who lie naked and left for dead on the side of the road would undoubtedly be the same priest and Levite who would pass by a lame man at the gate who was begging for alms. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus we not only read of how this rich man lived sumptuously and lavishly but also how he undoubtedly paid no mind or attention to the poor beggar who was just outside the gate of his house. Having said this I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages—each of which were written in those books by the beloved physician. It would be in the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke we find the parable of the rich man and Lazarus as well as the parable of the Good Samaritan while it is in the book of Acts we find the account of the lame man who was placed outside the gate called Beautiful at the Temple of the Lord. I am absolutely convinced we must needs consider each of these passages—and not only these passages but also the dichotomy and distinction which exists between the rich young ruler and Zacchaeus who was a chief publican in the city of Jericho. I firmly believe that in order to truly understand the reality of stewardship—both the responsibility and reckoning associated with it—we must needs consider each of these passages for they call and draw our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the call for faithfulness in stewardship. With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and ask you what you have been entrusted with and what stewardship looks like within your own life. Having briefly mentioned and spoken of stewardship within this writing I find it absolutely necessary to call your attention to that which you yourselves have been entrusted with in this life. We dare not and must not miss the incredible language that is found in these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the profound responsibility that is centered upon the call to stewardship within our own hearts and lives. It is with this in mind I invite you to first consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke concerning the rich man and Lazarus as well as the parable of the Good Samaritan. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture as well as the words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts: “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? HE said unto him, What is written in the law? How readiest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain many went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thickest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, he that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:25-37). “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried: and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime received at thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:19-31). “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the rich hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and angle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him” (Acts 3:1-10). “And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s greatly wondering. And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though b our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk. The God of Abraham, and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him God. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know; yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I tot that through ignorance ye did it, as did Al’s your rulers. But those things which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the LORD; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:11-26). Please don’t miss the incredible importance of what is found within these passages of Scripture for what we find in the sixteenth chapter is a rich man who lived sumptuously each day while there was a poor beggar who sat outside the gate of his house. It would be this poor beggar whose body was not only full of sores but who also desired that he might be fed from the crumbs off the rich man’s table. It is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and understand this for there was another man who was outside a different gate—one who was not only relegated to begging and asking for alms but also one who was lame. In the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find a lame man whose name we do not know who was each day placed outside the Temple at the gate called Beautiful. Imagine not only being at the Temple of the living God but sitting outside a place called Beautiful and not only being lame but also poor and begging alms of those who would enter in to worship the living God. Stop and consider Lazarus who sat outside the house of the rich man full of sores and begging for crumbs and scraps and yet seemed to receive no compassion from the man inside the gate and inside the house. Now consider this lame man who sat at the gate called Beautiful outside a different house who was lame and relegated to begging and asking alms from those who would pass by. This takes on an entirely different meaning when you think about the parable which Jesus delivered concerning the man who was journeying from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves who not only stripped and wounded him but also left him half dead. There on the side of the road this man—whose name we do not know—lie half dead as a priest and a Levite came upon the place where he was and would even look upon his plight. How absolutely incredible it is to think about those who were entrusted with the service and ministry of the Temple before and in the sight of the living God were entirely and altogether unwilling to stop and help this man. Neither the priest nor the Levites—those who were ministers in the house of the living God—were willing to stop and help this man that he might somehow recover and gain his life back. I sit here today thinking about the passage and parable of the Good Samaritan and I am finding myself being challenged by what is contained therein. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what the greater of the two evils actually were—the thieves who came upon this man stripping and wounding him leaving him half dead or the priest and the Levite who came to the place where he was after the damage was done and refused to do anything to help. We would like to fault the thieves who came to that place where this man was traveling and stripped and wounded him leaving him half dead, however, I would dare say the greater indictment was not against those who were in the world but rather those who were entrusted with the ministry and service of the Temple. I am absolutely convinced that the priest and Levite should have been vessels and conduits of the compassion, the mercy and the grace of the living God for and toward this man and yet neither one of them chose to stop by and exercise compassion upon him. Those who were entrusted with the ministry and service of the Temple were those who failed, ignored and refused to exercise and exhibit the compassion of the living God. Oh Scripture is entirely unclear whether or not they were traveling to Jerusalem or from Jerusalem, however, suffice it to say that they were either headed to the ministry and service of the Temple or they were headed from the service and ministry of the Temple. I would dare say that I lean more towards them heading to Jerusalem and to the Temple of the living God that they might enter into and engage themselves in the ministry of the Temple. With all of this being said I find it absolutely astounding and remarkable to think about and consider the incredible truth surrounding stewardship and how each and every one of us has been entrusted with stewardship in some way, shape or form. The more I think about and consider this the more I am brought face to face with the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and how He spent a considerable amount of time talking about and expounding upon the reality and principle(s) of stewardship. It is absolutely impossible to read the four gospel narratives and not encounter and come face to face with words and language centered upon stewardship and the responsibility and reckoning that is directly linked and connected to it. We as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ must needs recognize that we have indeed been called to a place of stewardship in the sight and presence of the living God—stewardship of our time, stewardship of our talents, stewardship of our treasures and everything the living and eternal God has given us. We cannot and must not make any attempt to read any of the four gospels and not encounter and come face to face with the words the Lord Jesus spoke concerning stewardship—and not only stewardship as it pertains to ministry but also stewardship in every day life. There would be those who would like to limit and confine stewardship to ministry and perhaps even serving in the house of the living God and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case. This is perhaps what might be so damning and indicting about and against the priest and the Levite for they might very well have allowed themselves to be caught up in the stewardship of the ministry inside the house and Temple of the living God that they completely neglected and ignored the fact that they were called to a stewardship outside the house of the living God. Oh there are countless men and women among us who are entirely and altogether deceived, naïve and blind to the truth that stewardship extends far beyond the realm of ministry and the house of the Lord. If there is one thing the parable of the good Samaritan demonstrates and reveals it’s that stewardship extends beyond and outside the Temple and house of the living God. The priest and the Levite were not indicted because of their service to the LORD but rather they were indicted because of their lack of compassion, mercy, and grace toward one who was in need. Perhaps the priest and the Levite felt their responsibility and role was confined and relegated to the Temple and the service and ministry therein and had absolutely nothing to do with that which was outside the courts and gates of the Temple. It’s actually quite interesting when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture to consider how Jesus could have used any two groups of people within this parable—i.e. a Pharisee, a scribe, a Sadducee, a ruler of the synagogue, a publican, a sinner, etc. it’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider that Jesus didn’t use a scribe, a Pharisee, a Sadducee nor a ruler of the synagogue but instead chose to use a priest and a Levite. What’s more is that Jesus chose not to use a publican and/or a sinner but chose to instead use a priest and a Levite. Jesus could have used any two groups of people during those days to illustrate what it meant to be a neighbor and yet He deliberately and intentionally chose to use a priest and a Levite. What’s more is that Jesus could have used any individual or group/class of people to describe that one who showed compassion upon this man who had fallen among thieves and was stripped, wounded and left half dead. Jesus could’ve have used a publican, or a sinner, or a prostitute, or anyone else during those days who found themselves in a lower caste and class of people. That which the Lord Jesus deliberately and intentionally chose to use was a Samaritan—one whom Jews did not have any association or any type of relationship with. I sit here today thinking about and considering this reality and concept of stewardship as it is mentioned within the New Testament gospels and I can’t help but think about a powerful contrast between two men who undoubtedly had great wealth and much possessions. If you take the time to read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke you will not only find the narrative of the rich young ruler who came unto Jesus asking what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life but you will also find the account of Zacchaeus who was the chief publican—perhaps the chief publican in the city of Jericho. Within the accounts of these two men we find those who had great wealth and great possessions in this life and who both encountered the person and presence of the Lord Jesus. I am absolutely convinced that we cannot and must not have a conversation about stewardship without considering the strong dichotomy and contrast which exists between the rich young ruler and Zacchaeus who was the chief publican. Both of these men desired something of Jesus as the rich young ruler asked Jesus what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life while Zacchaeus desired to see Jesus knowing that he would pass by that way. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for in the case of the rich young ruler we find Jesus providing him with the means to deliver himself from the cares of this world and that which would keep him from walking with and following Him. It would be unto the rich young ruler Jesus would give unto him the means and method whereby he might not only deliver himself from the cares of this world which would choke the life out of him but also would keep from walking with and following the Lord Jesus. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider that which Zacchaeus. With this in mind I invite you to consider if you will the following passages which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke concerning the rich young ruler as well as Zacchaeus who was the chief publican in the city of Jericho: “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet laciest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Luke 18:18-27). “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of statute. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, for so much as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:1-10). I am completely and utterly fascinated with the words presented in these two passages of Scripture for they are indeed only two chapters apart. It’s absolutely incredible what a difference a chapter makes for in the eighteenth chapter of this gospel we find a ruler coming unto Jesus speaking of Him as being good Master. It would be this rich young ruler who would come unto Jesus asking what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life—to which Jesus would proceed to recite unto him some of the Ten Commandments. Upon hearing the words which Jesus had spoken unto him this rich young ruler would declare how he had kept all those things from his youth up. What makes this truly unique is when you consider the fact that the rich young ruler declared unto Jesus that he had kept all those things from his youth up and proceeded to ask what he still lacked. Undoubtedly although this man was rich and had great wealth and much possessions he realized there was something standing in the way of him entering into and inheriting everlasting life. What’s more is that even when Jesus delivered and recited unto him certain of the commandments written in the Law he proceeded to ask what he still lacked. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind this rich young ruler realized and recognized that there was something missing within his life and something that caused him to perhaps feel incomplete. This rich young ruler would enter into the presence of Jesus—not only asking what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life but also asking Him what He still lacked within his life. Oh this is something which warrants strong consideration—particularly and especially when considering the words which are found in the nineteenth chapter for when reading of Zacchaeus we find a chief publican who was also undoubtedly wealthy and having much possessions and yet being willing to give up to half his goods to the poor. What’s more is that not only was he willing to give up to half his goods unto the poor but he was willing to restore anyone whom he had defrauded fourfold. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous language that is found in these two passages of Scripture and the dichotomy that exists between them. On the one hand you find a rich young ruler who had great wealth and much possessions and desired what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life and yet would leave the presence of Jesus sorrowful when Jesus invited him to deliver himself of his goods, his wealth, his possessions and even the hold those things had within his heart and soul. Remember the question which the Lord Jesus presented to his disciples when he asked what good it would be for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose and forfeit his own soul. What’s more is Jesus would also proceed to ask what a man would give in exchange for his soul thus implying that there are those who would be willing to pay whatever price is necessary at the expense of their soul. For Zacchaeus, however, we find a chief publican who had undoubtedly defrauded countless individuals of their own wealth and possessions that he might line and fill his own pockets. When Jesus was present within his house Zacchaeus made two declarations and two commitments in the sight and presence of the Lord Jesus. First and foremost he would give—and not merely give but give up to half his goods unto the poor that he might make distribution unto them. Secondly he would restore—and not only restore but restore four-fold that which he had taken by unjust and fraudulent means. GIVING AND RESTORING! Oh how absolutely wonderful and incredible the words and language found in this passage of Scripture truly is for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding Zacchaeus who was not only a chief publican but was also viewed by culture and society as a sinner. Here we find this man who was largely and widely viewed as a sinner by the culture and society of that day and yet he was not only willing to give unto the poor but also restore unto those whom he had personally defrauded. What a truly wonderful and powerful witness and testimony is found within this passage for within it we find one who was a chief publican and one who was considered by many to be a sinner being willing to not only give to the poor but also to restore that which he had personally taken. If there is one thing we must needs recognize concerning stewardship it’s that directly linked and connected to it are these realities of giving and restoring. There is a tremendous need within our hearts and lives to pay attention to that which is contained here for it brings us face to face with the truly wonderful truth surrounding Zacchaeus who was considered by many to be a sinner and yet was a sinner who entertained Jesus within his home. Zacchaeus was considered by many to be a sinner during those days in that culture and society and yet this sinner was willing to not only give generously unto the poor but he was also willing to restore fourfold that which he had taken by unjust and fraudulent means. When we think about stewardship we must needs recognize and understand that directly linked and connected to it is indeed giving unto the poor for that is what we have been commanded and instructed in Scripture to do. You cannot read Scripture without encountering reference after reference and command after command to not only look after the orphans and the widows but also to care for and give unto the poor. It is virtually impossible to read the Scripture and not encounter the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the command and instruction of the living God to care for, look after and give unto the poor. What’s more is that within Scripture we know the children of Israel are God’s chosen people specifically called from among the nations to be His special possession, however, we must also recognize that there is another people which holds a special place within the heart of God—namely, the orphans, the widows and the poor. Both the Old and New Testaments call and draw our attention to the incredible and tremendous truth surrounding the need to give unto the poor and to look after the orphans and the widows. Not only this but we must needs recognize that if we are truly good stewards of that which has been entrusted unto us—not only will we not cling so tightly unto it, not only will we give unto the poor but we will also lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven and live lives which are completely absent from the cares of this world which the Gentiles and the world seek after. It is when we are indeed good stewards of that which we have been entrusted with that we are able to truly seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness knowing that all these things shall be added unto us. With this in mind I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in both the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke. In both of these cases we encounter Jesus instructing and inviting His disciples and those who would walk with and follow Him to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Oh it is only when we are able to live our lives detached from the cares and burdens of this world that we are truly able to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. What’s more is that in seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness—not o not can and will the living God give unto us that which we need but we are also free to live our lives from a place of having treasure in heaven that we might bless men and women in this life. Oh there is a great need for us as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ to be those who live completely free and detached from the cares of this world and from those things which would not only keep us from having treasure in heaven but would also keep us from walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover there is a great need to recognize that when we truly recognize that everything we have was given to us by the living God and does not belong to us we are truly able to live our lives from a place of compassion, from a place of giving, from a place of grace, from a place of humility and that which truly pleases the living God. I am absolutely convinced that we can only live our lives from a place of generosity when wealth, riches, possessions and the like have no hold on or hook in us. It is written that the love of money is the root of all evil and with this being said it is imperative we understand that those who hold on to the mammon of this world loosely can and will be willing to give unto those who are in need. Oh having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the sixth chapters of both the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as in the gospel narrative written by Luke: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:19-23). “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment: consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And ye I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, what shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:24-34). “And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he derived the inheritance with me. And he said unto him< man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestowe my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul< Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:13-21). “And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which n either have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto yo. Fear not, little flock; for if is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that FALLETH not, where not thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:22-34). There is indeed a great need to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here are powerful examples of the Lord Jesus instructing His disciples to live their lives free from anxiety, free from worry, free from doubt and even from covetousness. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke you will find him writing of the Pharisees who were themselves covetous hearing all the words which Jesus spoke. It would be in direct response to this Jesus would declare unto them how they were those who justified themselves before men but how God knew their hearts. Moreover Jesus would declare unto them that what is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. Jesus declared how the law and the prophets were until John and how since that time the kingdom of God was preached and every man pressed into it. This would be followed by Jesus declaring how it was easier for heaven and earth to pass than for one tittle of the law to fail. This would be the words and language Jesus would use in between the parable of the unjust steward and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. We read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not only find Jesus speaking of the need to be faithful which is least and being faithful in the unrighteousness mammon and how both can and will prepare us to be entrusted with much in the kingdom of the eternal and living God. Within this chapter we are indeed brought face to face with the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the call for faithfulness in stewardship—and not only the call to be faithful in stewardship but also the call to be those who recognize the need to live their lives free from the cares and burdens of this world. There are countless men and women who live their lives completely burdened and weighed down with the cares of this world simply because they are living for treasure(s) which they can amass and accumulate in this life. The rich young ruler has much wealth and many possessions and was sorrowful when the Lord Jesus instructed him to sell all that he had and give unto the poor that he might have treasure in heaven. One of the greatest questions we must needs recognize and understand when considering the words found in this passage of Scripture is the reckoning and responsibility centered upon stewardship. IN the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by Luke we find the principles of recovery and returning while in this passage we find the principles of responsibility and reckoning. When we think of restoration we must needs recognize that it not only touches the rescue and recovery of that which was lost but it also touches the return of that which was lost that it might be restored and found once more. When we think about stewardship—and not only stewardship but also the reward of stewardship—there is a great need for us to recognize that we have indeed been called into a place of responsibility and reckoning. It is absolutely impossible to think about stewardship without and apart from recognizing that it carries with it a responsibility given unto us by the One who has entrusted us with His goods. Permit me to ask you to think about and consider with what you have been entrusted with and what you have been called to be found faithful over in this life. When you think about the call to stewardship within your own life you must needs recognize that which you have been entrusted with and that you have been called to be found faithful. If you want to talk about the kingdom of God and the economy of heaven you must understand that at the very heart and center of this is the need to be faithful with that which we have been entrusted with—that which has been entrusted unto us by another. Jesus spent a considerable amount of time teaching and speaking about stewardship in this life and would even teach and deliver a parable concerning a man who was preparing to go on a long journey and left a portion of his wealth unto his servants. If there is one thing we must needs recognize it’s that while each of these individuals might have been considered “servants” only two were actually ‘stewards” who were faithful and responsible with their master’s wealth and possessions. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus delivering a parable concerning a ruler and man with great wealth and possessions who was preparing to depart on a long journey. Prior to his long journey he would divide a portion of his wealth and possessions unto his servants whom he would entrust with while he was gone. Undoubtedly each of these servants was given a portion of his goods and possessions according to the measure of faithfulness and responsibility which was determined by this ruler. It would be this ruler who would entrust each of these servants with a portion of his goods based solely upon their ability—and I would not only say based on their ability but also based on their faithfulness in what he had previously entrusted them with. It’s incredibly interesting to think about and consider how their faithfulness in the presence of the ruler would directly impact and determine that which they would be entrusted with in his absence. Within this parable Jesus makes it very clear that what they were entrusted was was based on their own several ability and what they were capable of. Undoubtedly while the ruler was present among and with them he would carefully watch how they handled that which did not belong to them that he might entrust them with a portion of his wealth and possessions. How they treated that which did not belong to them while the master was still present among them would indeed directly impact and determine that which they would be entrusted with while the master departed and went away on a long journey. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for each of these servants was given a portion and measure of the wealth and possessions which belonged to the master. What’s more is that each of these individuals was given the ability to be faithful and do well with what they had been entrusted with. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth that each of these servants was given the same opportunity to be wise and faithful with that which belonged to the master and that which was entrusted unto them. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Matthew concerning the ruler and the servants: “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other Vive talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and dogged in the earth, and his his lordis Mooney. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoned with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that you art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: thou outghest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talen from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:14-30). “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gatherered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in p risen, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? OR naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:31-40). “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and. Ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick , and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:41-46). As I bring this writing to a close I feel it is absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to what is found in this passage of Scripture for there is a difference between a servant and a steward. When reading the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find that this master had three servants whom he would entrust with a portion of his goods and wealth while he himself went away on a journey. The master did not give these servants any indication how long he would be gone, where he was going or even when he would be back which would have placed a tremendous responsibility upon their shoulders for they knew that their master could return at any time. Their master could come back in a week, or he could come back in a month, or he could come back in a year and it was important for them to not only be found faithful but also having been responsible with that which had been entrusted with them. Stop and consider how the servants with two talents and with the five talents would have immediately began going to work with their master’s wealth and possessions—not only not knowing when he would return but also not wanting to be found unfaithful and unwise with what had been entrusted with him. Scripture is not clear as to when the master returned and how long he had been gone, however, we can be absolutely certain that when he returned there would be a reckoning and a report of the stewardship which had been entrusted into their hands. It is absolutely incredible to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and consider how this master entrusted into the hands and care of these three servants a measure of his wealth and possessions and it was up to them what they did with it and how faithful and responsible they were. The single greatest question we can and must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we have been and whether or not we are being faithful with that which we have been entrusted with and whether when the Lord and Master returns He will not only find us faithful but also as being wise with what has been entrusted unto us. Are we as the servants of the most High God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ truly beings faithful with that which has been entrusted unto us and that which has been placed into our care.

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