Saturday, November 05, 2011

What to do while we wait

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 24:29-51

TO CHEW ON: "Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is the servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes." Matthew 24:45-46

In all the chaos and mayhem of tribulation, failing moon, falling stars, marrying, partying, and people snatched away as by a thief, we have one scene of normalcy: a servant doing his boring old duty. According to Jesus, he/she is the one with no reason to worry or fear the master's return.

The word for servant here is "bondservant."

[A bondservant - doulos  - was a slave, a person of servile condition. Metaphorically it signifies one who gives himself up to another's will, those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing His cause among men.]

In a parallel passage where Jesus talks similarly about a master returning unexpectedly (Luke 12:35-48), the servant is called a "steward."

[A steward - oikonomos - was a manager of a household or of household affairs. In this role the head of the house or the proprietor of the business entrusted the steward the management of his affairs, the care of receipts and expenditures, the duty of doling out the proper portion to every servant and even to the children not yet of age.]

It sounds like a pretty mundane, administrative sort of role where, in the Matthew passage, the Master valued faithfulness (as in carrying out duties in a timely and routine way - Matthew 25:45-46), fairness, and personal discipline (as in sober vs. drunken or decadent living - Matthew 25:48-51).

I love how John Gill's commentary expands on the idea of a steward's job (this man lived long ago--1697-1771; please don't let the old-fashioned language bother you):
"The post that such a person is put in, and the work he is to do, follow:
Whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household; or "family", the church of God ... in which are believers of various growths and sizes; some fathers, some young men, some children.
Over these, the ministers are, by their Lord, made and placed as rulers; not as lords and tyrants over God's heritage, to govern them in an arbitrary way, but as over them in the Lord, to rule them according to the word of God, and the laws of his house.... whose principal business it is to give them meat in due season; even "their portion" of it, as in Luke 12:42.
Not all of us are designated "ministers" as in church leaders. But I would submit that most of us are stewards or spiritually responsible for someone: our children, our spouse, our friends newer in the faith than we are, or still on the journey to accepting Jesus. We can steward God's Word in the ways Gill suggests:

"For the word of God is to be cut and rightly divided, and everyone in the family, according to his age, appetite, and digestion, is to have his proper part and portion given him: 

It must be meat, proper food, such as is solid, substantial, and nourishing; even the wholesome words of Christ Jesus, that must be given them, and not husks and empty trash; and all in due season, in its proper time, as their cases and circumstances require, and call for; as whether weary, or uncomfortable, or in the dark, or under temptations and afflictions: for a word fitly and seasonably spoken, how useful is it!" (Read all of Gill's commentary and more here.)
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to be a faithful steward to those under my care, so I can be unashamed and unembarrassed to meet You face to face. Amen.

MORE: "Find us Faithful"

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