Message of Stewardship #7
Stewardship and Service (Taken from “The Message of Stewardship” by Ralph Cushman)
Service tends to be something I offer from my extra time or extra resources. Many times this service is done to make me feel better about myself or to exemplify my goodness to other people.
Stewardship calls for me to serve with my entire life, not just a portion. I do this for the glory of God to fulfill His will on earth: “not willing that any should perish; but that all should come to repentance.”
“I give thee back the life I owe, That in thine ocean depths its flow May richer, fuller be.” George Matheson
He is the man. From Wikipedia: “He was educated at Glasgow Academy and the University of Glasgow, where he graduated first in classics, logic and philosophy. In his twentieth year he became totally blind, but he held to his resolve to enter the ministry, and gave himself to theological and historical study. In 1879 the University of Edinburgh conferred upon him the honorary degree of D.D.”
Luke 17:10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'”
“Only that person who has deceived himself into thinking that he has any wealth of money or service that can give God, fails to see the matchless glory…of the fundamental principle of stewardship is that God, by creation and redemption, is the real owner of all material and spiritual resources.”
“What has a man to give God? Nothing but a surrendered will.”
The Business of Life
Acts 20:31-35 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
The book has this illustration that has stuck with me ever since I first read it some 30 years ago. The conductor of the train was speaking with women coming into the city about finding lodging when they arrived. His wife would meet them and take care of them making sure they found suitable lodging after spending the first night with her. He was quizzed by a passenger. “Oh, I was doing a little of the Master’s business.” “That is a fine thing for you to do!” “And rather exceptional for a man in your busy life.”
The response: “That is my business. I feel that I am not only responsible to the Illinois Central for the comfort of my passengers but I have a certain responsibility to Jesus Christ for their souls. My business is to serve Jesus Christ. I am working for the Illinois Central to cover expenses.”
Matt 16:24-26 then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
“The practical weakness of the vast mass of modern pity for the poor and the oppressed is precisely that it is merely pity; the pity is pitiful, but not respectful.” G. K. Chesterton
He comes across as a great big man mixing it up with the intellectual ungodly of his age. He wrote tons but what caught my attention was a series of novels about a detective priest named “Father Brown”. Actually downloaded it for .99. Opposed Nazis, opposed eugenics, didn’t understand Jews, supported a Jewish state in Palestine then switched to one in Africa. Ended his life trying to find the middle ground between capitalism and socialism. In college he was into magic and such, got married and re-entered the Anglican church and ended up becoming Catholic. Influenced C S Lewis with a book called “Orthodoxy”. Here is a quote from Wikipedia: “This style of argumentation is what Chesterton refers to as using ‘Uncommon Sense’ — that is, that the thinkers and popular philosophers of the day, though very clever, were saying things that were nonsensical. This is illustrated again in Orthodoxy: “Thus when Mr. H. G. Wells says (as he did somewhere), ‘All chairs are quite different’, he utters not merely a misstatement, but a contradiction in terms. If all chairs were quite different, you could not call them ‘all chairs’”
Right Relationship to God
“Jesus’ philosophy of stewardship lifts service to a new level by making it consequent upon the right attitude toward God and his sovereign ownership of all things.”
1 Cor 4:1-2,7 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful….7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
“There is nothing so small but that we honor God by asking his guidance of it, or insult him by taking it into our own hands.” John Ruskin
(a crisis of faith led him to develop a human effort to “fix” society that exists to this day, the guild of Saint George, but died an embittered with the world man. He wasn’t able to fix it and he had cut the ties to the only one who will.
“Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deserves; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do thy will; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” Ignatius of Loyola
From Wikipedia: was a Spanish knight from a local Basque noble family, hermit, priest since 1537, and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and, on 19 April 1541, became its first Superior General. Ignatius emerged as a religious leader during the Counter-Reformation. Loyola’s devotion to the Catholic Church was characterized by absolute obedience to the Pope.
After being seriously wounded in the Battle of Pamplona in 1521, he underwent a spiritual conversion while in recovery. De Vita Christi by Ludolph of Saxony purportedly inspired Loyola to abandon his previous military life and devote himself to labour for God, following the example of spiritual leaders such as Francis of Assisi. After experiencing a vision of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus at the shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat in March 1522, he went to Manresa, where he began praying for seven hours a day, often in a nearby cave, and formulating the fundamentals of the Spiritual Exercises.
2 Cor 5:14-15 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
1 Cor 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
“If we have whispered truth, Whisper no longer; Speak as the tempest does, Sterner and stronger” John Greenleaf Whittier
He was the Christian, abolitionist poet before the Civil War.
“O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst humble thyself to become man, and to be born into the world for our salvation, teach us the grace of humility, root out of our hearts all pride and haughtiness, and so fashion us after thy holy likeness in this world, that in the world to come we may be made like unto thee, for thine own name and mercies; sake. Amen.” Bishop Walsham How
He was a straightforward Anglican preacher who published commentaries and wrote songs. His high energy brought him to places of advancement but he held off, but eventually found himself in London where he threw himself into the helping of the young castaways of London.
“Christian stewardship lifts service above mere pity and generosity by giving it a commanding objective which is nothing short of the spiritual regeneration of men and nations. Thus stewardship differs from philanthropy and mere service in its fundamental purpose. Stewardship does not serve merely because of spasms of emotion but because of the profound conviction that the steward is called to reconcile man to God.”
2 Cor 5:17-21 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
“The paramount question underlying the issue of democracy is the religion of Jesus Christ. Eliminate Christ and you leave the earth to eternal war.” Henry Watterson
Henry was in the Confederate army under the notorious Bedford Forest. He also edited a Confederate paper during the war and then devoted himself to the politics of newspapers, opposing Grant and becoming a syndicated columnist throughout the country. He wrote two major books, one a history of The Spanish American War and the other titled “The Compromises of Life”. Sounds insightful.
“I hold such creeds to be earthbound and futile, Vain breathings of a sentimental clod, That fail to turn the face to Christ the Saviour, Or point a hungry heart to God. My heart is hungry for a Presence, Some Living One to lift me from the sod; My creed must tell of more than human doings, My creed must lift my lonely heart to God!” Ralph Cushman
“We might as well make an experiment with the teachings of Jesus Christ, as almost everything else has been tried and failed. I am no more a Christian than Pilate was; and yet I am ready to admit that after contemplating the world of human nature for nearly sixty years I see no way out of the world’s misery but the way of Christ’s will.” George Bernard Shaw
The famous playwright is considered second to Shakespeare among British playwrights. Wikipedia: His experiences as a schoolboy left him disillusioned with formal education: “Schools and schoolmasters”, he later wrote, were “prisons and turnkeys in which children are kept to prevent them disturbing and chaperoning their parents.” In October 1871 he left school to become a junior clerk in a Dublin firm of land agents, where he worked hard, and quickly rose to become head cashier. In 1880 Shaw began attending meetings of the Zetetical Society, whose objective was to “search for truth in all matters affecting the interests of the human race”. Karl Marx’s writings became a focal point of his life and one of his first profitable novels was the “An Unsocial Socialist”. He would admire John Ruskin. He was one of the men that Chesterton conversed with and was known as Chesterton’s “friendly enemy”.
“Stewardship lifts service into a high atmosphere of eternal duty safe from the softening influences of convenience and self-indulgence. It is true that the steward will see ecstatic moments when the severest crosses will be easily carried on a flood of divine emotion, but ordinarily it is not so. Stern duty must be marshaled to bear us on.”
1 Cor 9:16-17 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
“Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance, self-control, diligence, strength of will, content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know.” Charles Kingsley
Wikipedia: Charles Kingsley (12 June 1819 – 23 January 1875) was a broad church priest of the Church of England, a university professor, historian and novelist. He is particularly associated with the West Country and northeast Hampshire. He was a friend and correspondent with Charles Darwin. He was sympathetic to the idea of evolution and was one of the first to welcome Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species. He had been sent an advance review copy and in his response of 18 November 1859 (four days before the book went on sale) stated that he had “long since, from watching the crossing of domesticated animals and plants, learnt to disbelieve the dogma of the permanence of species.” Once again a man trying to help humanity. Kingsley’s concern for social reform is illustrated in his classic, The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby (1863), a tale about a chimney sweep,
“Out of the shame of my coward heart, Out of my night of defeat, Lift me, O God, to the battle again; Cover my bitter retreat! Out of despising my weakness and rout, Out of Thy love for my soul, Purge me, oh purge, with Thy hyssop, dear Christ, Give me my spirit made whole! Beaten, but still undefeated, I pray, Thou of unconquerable hand, Reach me my poor broken saber again; I pledge thee to die or to stand! By the wonder of Heaven’s forgiveness, By the lovely lure of Thy light, By Thy Spirit of victory eternal God fling me again to the fight!” Ralph Cushman
John 15:14-15 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
“Is not the failure of many “good” church members to get joy out of their religion the result of holding Jesus at a distance through unreadiness to sympathize with his world program? “Lo, I am with you always” is the assurance of the Great Friend, but the promise is conditioned upon acceptance of the stewardship of the Great Commission.” Ralph Cushman
Matt 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
“Set us afire, Lord, Stir us, we pray. While the world perishes, We go our way, Purposeless, passionless, Day after day. Set us a fire, Lord Stir us, we pray.” Ralph Cushman
“O Lord, renew our spirits and draw our hearts unto thyself that our work may not be to us a burden, but a delight; and give us such a mighty love to thee as may sweeten all our obedience. Oh, let us not serve thee with the spirit of bondage as slaves, but with the cheerfulness and gladness of children, delighting ourselves in thee, and rejoicing in thy work.” Benjamin Jenks
He was the author of “Prayers and offices of devotion for families, and for particular persons, upon most occasions” 1822.