In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.1 Corinthians 4:2(NASB)
The first topic Paul addressed in his epistle to the Corinthians was their inappropriate, childish behaviour, which not only presented a poor testimony to the unbelievers in their local community, but also caused them to revert to carnal behaviour and regress into spiritual infancy.
They quarrelled about who was the best Bible teacher. They engaged in ungodly division instead of living in the unity of the Spirit. They exhibited the fleshly characteristics of a natural man instead of living in spirit and truth and Paul had to reprimand them for their unholy behaviour and remind them that their carnal conduct would result in the loss of spiritual rewards. Instead of their receiving gold, silver, and precious stones, their fleshly works would be found wanting and destroyed at the judgement seat of Christ.
Paul did not pull his punches when correcting the ungodly behaviour of the Corinthian Christians. Although his words of correction may have inflicted pain, he knew that in the long run, they would benefit spiritually... for a friend who is willing to challenge a brother about their ungodly ways, may cause momentary pain... but it would be worthwhile in the end. Indeed, Proverbs tells us, "faithful are the wounds of a friend."
However, it is in the midst of this cloud of constructive criticism that we turn to chapter 4, where Paul's attitude changes from one of vigorous chastening, to defending his strong words of correction. First, Paul called on the Church to consider who he is and what he had done for them spiritually. He reminded them that he and the other apostles came to their city out of concern for their lost status - they came as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God to bring them hope of salvation.
They had shared the good news of the gospel of grace and brought them out of darkness into Christ's glorious light. Paul had taught them the truth of the gospel of grace, so that by faith in Jesus, they had been born again, forgiven of their sin, transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son, and received the gift of eternal life.
As a trustworthy steward of God, Paul started to explain the debt of gratitude they should have towards him, "You should regard us, as servants of Christ," he explained, "and what is required of God's steward is that each one should prove to be trustworthy and true."
Faithfulness is a very important criterion for a servant of God and stewards of God are required to be trustworthy and faithful. Paul wanted them to understand that challenging their carnal behaviour and chastening them for their ungodly ways, was a proof that Paul was trustworthy and a true steward of the gospel. It demonstrated his concern for their well-being.
Paul was not only faithful to God, but to the entire Corinthian church. It is only someone who truly cares for another who would endanger their popularity and risk damaging a valued friendship, by correcting a fault and pointing out any errors of judgement.
The characteristics that the natural man so values are things like intellect, wealth, position, power, and success, but the attributes that God looks for in His servants is faithfulness to the cause of the gospel, fidelity towards the Lord Jesus, loyalty and devotion to those they serve, and steadfastness in the work with which they have been entrusted.
There is no more important character trait in a steward or servants than faithfulness in carrying out their duties. For a Christian minister like Paul or indeed any servant of Christ, one of the primary qualities that pleases the heart of the Lord is faithfulness... and the man or woman who is faithful in small things will be faithful with greater responsibilities.
May we never forget that the One who has called us is faithful. He will continue to be faithful and He desires each one of His servants to be faithful in the place that He has placed us and with the work with which we have been entrusted. May we be faithful stewards, faithful in prayer, faithful in our work, and may we also be faithful to the point of death, so that we may receive His promised Crown of Life.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the faithful ministry of Paul who was used to write the Scriptures, which contain so much important information on how to walk in spirit and truth and to live a life that honours Your name. Thank You that he was not only faithful in teaching the gospel of grace but also was ready and willing to challenge and correct ungodly issues in the congregation at the risk of damaging their relationship. I pray that like Paul, I too may be faithful in the work You have called me to do and bring honour to Your holy name, by the words I say and the life I live. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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