“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles – assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you.”Ephesians 3:1-2
We are all stewards.
We’ve all been given something that doesn’t belong to us.
A steward is someone who manages something that belongs to someone else. For example, a household, an estate, or maybe a large sum of money.
What we’ve all been given is grace as a gift from God.
How we steward that grace is profoundly important.
In Ephesians 3:1-13, the Apostle Paul writes about the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to him on behalf of Gentiles (non-Jews).
The Apostle Paul was raised and trained as a religious leader of the Jews. He was very zealous in his training and after Christ’s death and resurrection he even worked to persecute Christians. He sought to locate, arrest, beat, and even see that some were killed. On his way once to do exactly that, the resurrected Jesus appeared to him and called him to give up his life of persecuting the church and instead give his life to preach the gospel for the glory of God, which is what Paul did.
This is what Paul is talking about when he writes in verse 7 of Ephesians 3, “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace.” God extended grace to Paul that not only saved his soul but also grace that made clear his purpose to be used by God to proclaim God’s eternal purpose through Jesus to the Gentiles.
This was how Paul stewarded the grace given to him.
This grace is a gift, meaning he didn’t’ earn it. But really this grace is also a message – the message of the gospel. The message that sinful man can now find peace with God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That message has been revealed to Paul along with the truth that the gospel is now for all peoples – Jew and Gentiles.
So Paul had to then manage what was given him. And we see two very important ways Paul stewarded this grace/gospel that was given to him.
Steward For The Good Of Others
First, Paul stewarded this grace for the good of others, not himself.
Ephesians 3:2 says, “assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you.” Remember, he’s writing this from prison. His stewarding of this grace from God has not worked out for his own earthly good. He’s not gotten rich from this work, in this world anyway. It’s not been easy and comfortable for him.
As Christ showed the ultimate self-sacrificing love at the cross, so now too God’s people are called to live out self-sacrificing love as we steward the grace of God has given to us for the good of others.
Steward By Sharing The Gospel
Second, Paul stewarded this grace by preaching the gospel.
The message that was given to him was meant to be shared, passed on, preached to others. In Ephesians 3:8-9, Paul tells us two reasons why this grace was given to him. He writes, “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things.”
Paul stewards this grace given to him by 1) preaching the depths of Christ and 2) proclaiming the purpose of God through the church.
Evaluating Our Own Stewardship
So how are we stewarding the grace God has given to us? How are we communicating the gospel to those who need to hear it?
Like a box of Dairy Queen Dilly Bars on a hot summer day, the gospel is meant to be shared. How are we working toward seeing gospel multiplication happen in our area like Paul did among the Gentiles?
Here are three questions we need to be asking within the church when it comes to evaluating how we’re stewarding God’s grace.
Are we multiplying within?
Are we seeing the truths of the gospel multiplying inward in our own hearts? Are we each growing deeper in our knowledge and obedience and love of God through prayer and his Word? Are we growing in becoming like Christ? Are we increasingly faithful to God’s Word? Is the world increasingly seeing the image of Jesus in us?
Any multiplication that God wants to do through us will first start with the multiplication of his truth within us.
Are we multiplying close?
Are we seeing gospel multiplication happening within our own community? Are we sharing the gospel with those close to us?
At Rock Haven Church Montevideo right now, we’re asking God where in our community he is calling us to make a more focused investment of time and resources. We’re doing this by prayer walking our community this summer and in anticipation of why the formation of Impact Groups. Through these groups, we’re training our people and praying God will create the right environment where we can see multiplication take place. We need to be stewarding God’s grace in a way that sees multiplication happening close, in our community and through relationships close to us.
Are we multiplying out?
Where are we fostering multiplication outward from our community? In what ways are we supporting multiplication in new places?
Even though I pastor a young, newer church plant, we are already asking the question, “Where next, God?” What has been done for us in the tremendous financial and prayer support from other sending and support churches has been a grace from God. So I’m calling our people to already be praying about how we can steward God’s grace in a way that prepares us to eventually pass along support to another church plant. So we need to be in prayer, asking “Where next, God?” Or even, “Who next, God?” Who is God raising up to go and plant a new church?
A Healthy Steward Is A Multiplying Steward
We too need to be stewarding the grace God has given us in a way that serves and loves others and proclaims the gospel to those who need to hear and understand it. To be a healthy steward is to be a multiplying steward. What has been given to us – the grace of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ – is meant to be passed on.
How are we stewarding the grace God has given us?