On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 46: Decisions
“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Corinthians 4:1 RSV)
For all human beings, there are decisions we must make for ourselves. These decisions often have no outside input. There is no one to ask for advice, or no one to give direction. It is often these decisions that define who we are. Politician J.C. Watt said that “Character is doing the right thing when no one is watching.” Our stewardship of God’s gifts is one of those “all alone” places in which God forms who we are, our character.
After the conversion of Apostle St. Paul, it was necessary, if he was to become a leader in the Church, to establish his authority. St. Paul wants his readers to know that his authority came directly from God. He speaks about that in Galatians 1. He wants his readers (specifically in the church at Corinth) to regard him (as well as Cephas and Apollo) as “stewards of the mysteries of God.” St. Paul’s authority is linked to direct contact with God. Should someone claim such authority today, we would probably react with some doubt.
These days we look for qualifications that depend on credentials, interviews, certifications, diplomas and appropriate approvals from other qualified people. St. Paul’s credentials were boiled down to simply this: “it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12 RSV).
In the years between that conversion on the road to Damascus and St. Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem to meet with the other Apostles, St. Paul arrived at the conclusion that he was a steward of the mysteries of God. The former church destroyer had become the greatest of church builders. How did this happen? Can someone verify St. Paul’s credentials? How are we to trust him without paperwork?
Somewhere in the lonely wilderness of St. Paul’s soul, a soul now taken possession of by the Holy Spirit; somewhere, with no one else to consult with or to receive counselling from; somewhere, without receiving one sheet or paper or one interview – St. Paul made a decision, a stewardship decision, with no one watching, except God.
God had plans for St. Paul that were far more important than his own plans. When any Christian comes to that realization, he or she is no longer simply Christian – he or she becomes a Christian steward.
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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