Sabbath School Lesson for February 3-9, 2018
Although we’ve looked at stewardship from many angles, such as why it is needed, what the benefits are for both parties involved, and even examples of stewards in the Bible, this week we explore in more detail just what the Lord is looking for in his stewards here on earth. What marks will they make on the world, and why are these qualities needed.
For instance, we will see three main facets of stewardship in this study:
- loyalty (which leads to faithfulness)
- integrity (which leads to a clear conscience)
- obedience (which leads to trustworthiness)
A look at the business world shows us the importance of trademarks. Whether it’s a familiar logo, song, or even scent, these marks identify the product as belonging to a certain company/seller. God’s stewards will also come with their own package of identifying marks.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 NKJV
“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:2 NKJV
When we conduct ourselves in a loving manner, the world will not only see Jesus in us, they will even catch His scent, streaming up as a pleasing sacrifice of incense to the heavenly Father. All our actions will but reflect His loving character, and those around us will be drawn to His arms of love as well.
Remember this: “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:1, 2 NKJV
Loyalty, integrity, and trustworthiness are seen as important work qualifications in the business world. The solemnity of our duties as servants of Christ also demand these traits. They may also be seen as indicators of what separates a faithful steward from an unfaithful one.
Therefore, it’s imperative that we learn all we can about what it means to be faithful, true to our convictions, and obedient to His word.
Faithfulness describes someone who has loyalty, integrity, and trustworthiness, other topics to be addressed in more detail later this week. Looking at faithfulness in terms of our relationship with God and in a more general sense, two verses come to mind:
- “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV
- “Fight the good fight of faith…” 1 Timothy 6:12 NKJV
Yes, sometimes it’s a struggle to remain faithful, fully committed to God’s plan. This world of sin doesn’t make it easy for His followers. Jesus clearly pointed out that “…In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NKJV
Although we may have trials to endure, God is faithful in giving us the peace and strength we need to overcome the world’s temptations. One of our biggest temptations, when hardships surround us that seem more than we can bear, is to give up on God and lose hold of our faithfulness to Him.
This is where our trust in God becomes tested. We find that believing in Him is not always enough. We must also trust that He is arranging the best outcome for the advancement of His kingdom. It may not be a path we would choose for ourselves, but it will be something that glorifies and pleases God, if that has become our goal in life.
Read Hebrews 11:8-10, 17-19. How did Abraham express his faithfulness to God?
Read Romans 4:13 and Galatians 3:29. What is the identifying mark of God’s people, the heirs of His promise?
Read Revelation 2:10. What promise does God give here and how do we receive it?
Abraham usually comes to mind when we think about faithfulness, but when it comes to loyalty, Job is definitely a man to look up to. These famous words express the level of his commitment, ” ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.’ “ (Job 13:15) This is loyalty at its finest.
How do we know that God values our loyalty? Exodus 34:14 tells us that He is a jealous God. The fact that it says here that His name is Jealous shows the intensity of God’s love for us. Only someone in a loving relationship would make that claim.
And here’s how we know the heart is involved, and also what we can do to show God that we really are loyal to Him:
“Let your heart therefore be loyal to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day.” 1 Kings 8:61 NKJV
And if you think the commandments are only for Old Testament believers, remember Jesus’ words, “If you love me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15 NKJV
Yes, the commandments will always be a test of our love and loyalty.
Read Mark 6:24 and Exodus 34:14. Why is God so particular about having our loyalty?
Read 1 Chronicles 18:9 and 1 Kings 8:61. How do we show our loyalty to God?
Read Job 13:15 and Psalm 23:4. When is our loyalty most tested?
Tuesday: A Clear Conscience
A clear conscience, one that is capable of making good, safe choices in life and does so, is the result of integrity. Integrity indicates an adherence to a code of ethical values. It is not only synonymous with honesty, being honest with one’s self, but also has the quality of completeness or soundness.
Integrity, when used in a spiritual context, is a condition that reveals that we have undivided loyalty toward God. This integrity is necessary for us to have a complete, wholesome relationship with our Creator.
The clear conscience our integrity produces is actually a blessing, much the same as our health, family, and the inner peace that gets us through many trials. It acts as an inner monitor that guides our outward behaviors. Perhaps Daniel and his three friends, captives during the Babylonian exile, are some of the best examples we have of this quality.
The Bible is clear on how we can keep our conscience clean and pure. Being washed with the blood of Christ is the only way to be cleansed from a bad conscience (Hebrews 9:14). The result of this cleansing will be an ability to walk in the statutes and commandments of God with a clear conscience, knowing that our sins are covered and God can work in us to do His will.
Much will also depend on how we feed our minds. We must steer clear as much as possible from those things that take our minds off Christ. Only in Him will we have the fortitude to keep our conscience working well.
Read Hebrews 9:14 and 10:22-23. How does having a clear conscience help us serve God (9:14)? How do we receive the strength to keep from wavering, a sign of a true, loyal heart (10:22, 23)
Read 1 Timothy 4:1, 2. What happens to our conscience when deceptions take hold of our mind?
Read Matthew 5:6, 8. What does it mean to be “pure in heart”? How does hungering and thirsting for righteousness contribute to being pure in heart, giving us a clear conscience?
When we think of obedience, we most often think of outward behaviors that fall in line with God’s plans for us. But in truth, obedience is much more than this. It begins in the mind. Just as there are numerous reasons for giving, there are several motives in the heart that account for our obedience. We can obey out of fear, out of feelings of inadequacy, a desire to attain love from someone, or even to show our superiority to another.
But the only kind of obedience God accepts is that which comes from a humble heart of love. “…A broken and a contrite heart–These, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:17 NKJV Our obedience must be willingly and cheerfully given, as a statement of our faith and allegiance to God.
This was the kind of obedience that Abel showed when he offered to God the kind of sacrifice that God had specified. The slain lamb represented the Lamb of God and this shed blood was the only means that would save Adam’s family from the terrible mistake that was made in the Garden. Cain refused to acknowledge the gift of salvation, choosing instead to offer his own brand of obedience, an offering that reflected the work of his own hands.
So, let’s beware of the kind of obedience we offer to God. Let’s make sure that we obey because we are saved, not in order to be saved. When done right, obedience is a beautiful expression of our loyalty and faithfulness to God. It must be in alignment with what He has ordered, and must be given as a result of our relationship with Him, not in order to procure favor. God will honor only those actions which are done through trust and love.
Read Hebrews 11:4 and 12:24. How did Abel’s offering indicate that he was righteous? Why was the sprinkling of Jesus’ blood considered “better” than the blood shed by Abel?
Read 1 John 5:2, 3 and Romans 1:5. How does obedience show our love? Where do we get the power to keep God’s commandments?
Read 1 Samuel 15:22, 23, 13:14, and 16:1, 7. Even though Saul thought he was obeying, what was he actually doing and how did God work around his disobedience? What’s the difference in disobeying out of ignorance and disobedience that comes from of rebellious heart? How does God know the difference?
Daniel was already mentioned as an example of someone with integrity. He and his friends were not afraid to stand up for what they believed, even though they were under enormous pressure from their Babylonian captors.
Their faithfulness did not go unnoticed by King Nebuchadnezzar and they all found themselves in high government positions as a result. Their obedience to God made them trustworthy enough to be given great responsibilities in their place of exile.
We too are called to be faithful stewards to the extent that we are found trustworthy in our service to God. We must not be swayed by threats, flattery, or the pressure of others to conform to their opinions and practices. As we prove faithful to the requirements of God as we understand them, God will entrust us with more and more truth to live by and share with others.
Read Luke 16:10-12 and Matthew 25:21. What kind of things does the Lord make us ruler over? Does this even include the new earth?
Read Deuteronomy 32:4 and 1 Kings 8:56. In what ways has God been faithful to you?
Read 2 Kings 22:4-7. How rare is it to find people this honest about their labor and the wages they receive? Who are some of the people in your life who have this level of honesty and how did they acquire it?