Circuit Winkel 4 (1 Corinthians 4)
- Order of Service: Divine Service 4
- Hymn: LSB #865, “Lord, Teach Us Ever to Retain”
- Other Reading: Matthew 20:20-28
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
St. Paul charges all pastors with a twofold office. Servants and stewards. They sound the same, but there are a couple of distinctions. The first is a class of people. The second a subclass of the first. Origen wrote, “There is a major difference between being a servant of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God. Anyone who has read the Bible can be a servant of Christ, but to be a steward of the mysteries one must plumb their depths.”
To give a somewhat modern, pop culture reference, pastors are called to be like Downton Abbey's Mr. Carson. Mr. Carson was the butler at Downton. He was able to plumb the depths of English society to abide in both circles. The lord of the servants and the steward of the family. He was the most trusted and most respected person in the entire house. Both the family and the servants had great respect for him. Because he faithfully fulfilled the responsibilities of his position.
As pastors and professional church workers, you are called to positions with great responsibilities. Whether it's the spiritual oversight of hundreds of souls or keeping the youth organized, your position requires a lot from you. Your faithfulness in your service may not net great benefits in this life, but faithful service to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ yields everlasting benefits.
The faithful steward has the trust of his master. In the Church, Jesus gives us wonderful role models to emulate. St. Paul, Augustine, Chrysostom, Luther. Walther. All men who plumbed the depths of the Scriptures to find how to be more faithful. St. Paul wrote two-thirds of the New Testament. Augustine and Chrysostom's writings fill entire series of books on the Early Church Fathers. Luther and Walther give us wonderful gems in their writings and their sermons. Gems like this one:
“Let us, then, be very careful how we regard the apostles and bishops; we must attach neither too much nor yet too little importance to them. Not without reason did Paul—the Holy Spirit, in fact—make this restriction; and without doubt we are under obligation to follow it. The same limit here made concerning apostles applies to bishops. It designates the character of their office and the extent of their power.”
While Luther would commend us for respecting the pastoral office, he cautions against going too far with it. Many people fall prey to the temptation to take their responsibility, and the power that comes alongside it, and abuse it. But a faithful steward knows his limitations and boundaries. Carson was a good example of this. He had the Earl's confidence for counsel, but he didn't divulge that information or use it to better his own position. He gave what counsel to better the house as a whole. Not any particular person.
Jesus calls for that in His house. Everything that is said or done in the congregation should be for its edification. Therefore, Jesus gives us the tools to be better stewards. The Catechism and the Confessions provide that common basis for our ministry. Drawn from the foundation of the Scriptures. Our prayer is to keep steadfast in these things. Studying to make ourselves approved as faithful stewards of His mysteries. Mysteries which shape our life and faith for this life and the next. Amen.