“The Good Steward of Manifold Grace of God”
(Stewardship Month #4)
I want to start with something funny that I found on an internet site: Mrs. Smith was fumbling in her purse for her offering when a large television remote fell out and clattered into the aisle. The curious usher bent over to retrieve it for her and whispered, “Do you always carry your TV remote to church?” “No,” she replied, “but my husband refused to come with me this morning, and I figured this was the most evil thing I could do to him legally.”
I wonder how many of you struggle to bring your family to church with you on Sunday mornings. How many of you keep praying for your family members or loved ones who don’t come to church? When I read this funny story, it reminded me of how my mother struggled to bring our whole family to the church. As I told you before, my family members were not Christians. Only my mother was baptized when she was a child by a missionary from the USA, and she received an education from a tent church the missionary sponsored. However, she forgot all Christian life and lessons after getting married to my father, and following the Confucian rules of her family–in–law.
Once my education became an issue, as my grandparents wouldn’t allow me to go to a high school because I was a girl, she decided to leave and move out of her family-in-law’s house. Finally, our family left my grandfather’s house, agreeing that we didn’t expect any support from my grandparents. Her decision made many changes in our family life. I could attend a high school, and my mother could attend church with my siblings. At that time, my father and I didn’t go to church. I lived in another town because of school, and my father went against Christianity because of his Confucian family tradition. My mother ran a traditional Korean dress shop, and she usually closed her shop on Sundays to attend church service. You may know that most Korean churches hold many programs on Sundays, taking up the whole day. While my mother and siblings were in the church on Sundays, my father stayed home alone, drinking all day.
My mother had the wisdom and a plan to bring my father to the church. She intentionally set appointments with her clients on Sundays. When they came to her shop to meet with her my father was the one they contacted. My father then had to come to the church to bring my mother back to her shop to see her clients because they didn’t have cell phones back then. Sometimes it went well when he was not drunk, but if he was drunk, it went badly. If he came to the church drunk, he tried to fight with a pastor. He also interrupted the church service, shouting and yelling in the sanctuary for my mother to come out. Sometimes, he came up to the pulpit to fight with the pastor. Many people in town gossiped about my father. My younger siblings hated that my father came to the church drunk and felt ashamed, but my mother thought it was the only way my father would come to the church, and God may get hold of him this way.
She believed that once a person came into the church for any reason, God may hold them for the rest of their life. She believed this because of her experience. She felt that once she was baptized as a child, God called her again to bring her family to God. Because of my mother and her pastor’s patience and love, my father was finally baptized by the pastor, who my father had gone up against and tried to fight, and became a faithful Christian.
Today’s scripture tells us how good stewards live in their daily lives. They believed that Jesus would return soon to judge all nations and all people. If the end of the world comes soon, what would you do? A famous saying is, “Even if the end of the world comes tomorrow, I will plant an apple tree today” (Baruch Spinoza, 1632-1677, A Dutch Philosopher). What a crazy plan that is! If the end of the world comes tomorrow, what did he expect from an apple tree? As you may know, if you plant an apple tree now, you can expect apples from the tree years later. So, what did he benefit by planting the tree? He might think of things as being normal, even though the end of the world comes tomorrow. Some may stock up on groceries if they hear that the end of the world is coming soon; some may gather with their loved ones; some may find a safer place to be. However, the end of the world is not like war. It ends completely and totally and there is nothing we can do to sustain our lives.
We kept February as the stewardship month. We have discussed, “We are God’s stewards, who were made in God’s image, and God entrusted all things, including the church, to us.” Then, “We should live out God’s will in everyday life as the stewards of God.” As stewardship month concludes, I am talking about the life of the good steward. In the scripture, the disciple Peter said this about the life of the good steward, “The end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”
The life of good stewards is like how we are still consistent with our prayers and caring and loving one another even though the end of the world comes soon. Jesus said, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). Proverbs also says that “Do not boast about tomorrow for you don’t know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). The good steward of God doesn’t need to boast or worry for tomorrow because it is held by God, not by our hands. Only we can love one another through prayers. Love covers all kinds of sins as God removed all types of our sins away through Jesus’ love. The good stewards of God live their daily lives with prayers, caring love, and serving God and one another with good hospitality. And then, “whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ.” Thanks be to God. Amen!