Steward of the Mystery of God

Whenever I think of the word steward I think of the Lord of the Rings. In Lord of the Rings there is a character whose position is the Steward of Gondor. His job is to be the caretaker of his city, Gondor, in the absence of the true king. What I love about the concept of steward is that it is both, at the same time, a position of great authority and great humility. Paul speaks about his role as a steward of God’s mysteries and as such he has authority among the churches. But his authority is completely foreign to him–it is not his own. He is not there to teach of his own wisdom. He preaches the cross. Paul doesn’t go to the churches as he sees fit, rather he goes where God has called him. So as a steward he has power, yet it is humble through and through, for it is the power of God that he is entrusted with.

This is why Paul goes on in this chapter to say that he isn’t accountable to the church. A steward must be found faithful, but it is a faithfulness to the one who has given the power. Paul is a steward of the mysteries of God, and he is then accountable to God. God is the one who judges faithfulness. The churches do not judge him, Paul himself won’t even judge.

He wanted what wasn't his to have -- the big throne.
He wanted what wasn’t his to have — the big throne.

Going back to Lord of the Rings for a moment, the character ends up getting into trouble because he is not respecting the position he has and seeks to claim more power than is due to him. He wants to go beyond the authority he has as steward and rule on his own. He wants to occupy the throne of the king. In doing this he is not found faithful.

This is just what Paul is seeking to avoid. In verse six as he writes, “I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.” A steward that goes beyond what is written is going beyond the role of steward. It is dangerous territory of pride and ego. That is the downfall of the steward in the Lord of the Rings.

Paul’s intent should be ours, as well. We’ve been blessed with God’s word and what he has given us in it is sufficient. We veer toward sin when we step beyond Scripture and begin to speculate, innovate, or even delete. This quote from John Calvin from his commentary on the book of Romans says it well,

Let this then be our sacred rule, to seek to know nothing concerning it, except what Scripture teaches us: when the Lord closes his holy mouth, let us also stop the way, that we may not go farther.

God has entrusted us with much. He has given us his word but has also given each of us the life we live. To be found faithful we must seek to be good stewards, humbling acknowledging that all we have is truly God’s. We must also as stewards humbly accept what God has shown us and how he directs us, and make it our aim to trust his will, not looking to go beyond his perfect wisdom. After all, as we’ve learned in 1 Corinthians, our wisdom cannot compare to his own. God’s wisdom in the cross of Christ may seem foolish, but it is the power of God; it is our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

How I Read the Lord of the Rings in One Summer

I was never an avid reader when I was in high school. That was the role of my oldest brother, who on vacation to the Outer Banks would sit in the bedroom and read. That wasn’t me, but I’m sure he is the better for it.

I think the biggest hangup for me was seeing reading as a chore. No ones likes chores, as far as I know. Chores are imposed upon us from on high and can even feel, to a high schooler at least, like punishment. Unfortunately for me, homework assignments looked a lot like chores. So reading didn’t have an appeal to me, rather it was what I was supposed to do for class.

When I had a summer of little to no assigned reading for school that was the summer in which I read the most. I didn’t put off reading as though it were homework that was trying to rudely creep into my summer vacation. I saw it as a worthwhile activity. So I picked up the Fellowship of the Ring and soon after was putting down The Return of the King, having finished the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t school’s fault. No one to blame here but myself. But at least now, in knowing myself and my quirks and shortcomings, I can better adjust to accomplish what I want to in life. Being aware of how my mind works I can try to compensate or stop myself from some of my learned bad habits.

This avoidance of “chore” still haunts me now. How many of you like to have a clean house, you have a great feeling when you take the little bit of extra time to put something away, and you get a sense of satisfaction from dishes being done? Me, too. But even though I get the sense that such work is worthwhile, each time before that work is to be done, my will rebels against me for it thinks I am enslaving it to do some foul chore.

I want it to be done. I like it when it is finished. I feel good about doing it in the process. But to begin is so difficult. Certainly sin is at work in me. This same mental hump is hard to get over in our readings, as well.

I know the weekly readings may seem long. But fight the mentality of it as a chore. God has gifted us with this book to learn about him and grow in his ways. We are privileged where we stand in history in having the access we do to read the Bible. Just because reading the Bible is a “should” don’t lose the joy of reading and meditating on God’s Word.

See it as a joy. Look ahead to the goal of having read it all. Keep that picture in your mind. For the joy that was set before him, Christ endured the cross for us (Heb 12:2). Reading the Bible is in no way like the suffering of the cross. But if for the joy set before him, Jesus could bear that immeasurable suffering, what will we be able to do for him if we fix our eyes on Christ, make him our goal and our hope, and find our joy in him? We need to set his joy before us.

Do what you need to in order to see time with God in his Word for what it is. Make it the best part of your day as you put aside the other demands of life and sit quietly before our Maker. Don’t worry about the state of the house or the emails that wait for you. If only for that reason, you’ll desire to read more because it allows you to ignore those other calls on your time. Make it a sacred space and time during which everything else fades away. Find a cozy spot, make yourself a cup of coffee, and enjoy.