Are We Willing to Use the Resources God Has Given Us
According to God’s Priorities and Purposes? Part 1
1 Corinthians 4:1–2
Discipleship Lesson #08
September 16, 2018
“Father we’re so thankful that we have Your Word revealed to us by God the Holy Spirit through human authors, that You have overseen the process so that that which was recorded was recorded without error, and that Your words have power.
“It is not a mystical power but the power of truth, for as our Lord stated ‘we shall know the truth and the truth will set us free’. And setting us free is a freedom from sin and the slavery to sin.
“As our Lord stated in His high priestly prayer, it is through Your Word that we are sanctified; Your Word is truth. We grow; we mature, we learn about You because we submit to Your Word. We study Your Word, we reflect upon it, and we internalize it and that we desire in our best moments to be faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“As we continue our study we pray that we might be encouraged, strengthened, challenged, and if necessary corrected by, what we study this morning in Your Word that we may press on to spiritual maturity.
“We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We’re going to go through a variety of passages. You may want to start by marking 1 Corinthians 4, but other than that we’ll probably walk our way through a number of passages, as we talk about our final question related to discipleship.
We’ve looked at important questions that are raised in the Scripture if we want to be a disciple. What we have seen is that a disciple is a student of Jesus Christ. That doesn’t mean we restrict our understanding to the Gospels.
Because as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3, we have in the Scripture the thinking, the mind of Christ, so that we know what God wants us to know by our study of God’s Word. The Bible doesn’t contain God’s Word; the Bible is God’s Word.
As we study through the Scriptures we come to understand who God is, we come to understand who we are as fallen, corrupt sinners desperately in need of the grace of God, we understand all that God has provided for us in His grace, and we are challenged to “grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
That means we learn things; we have to grow on the basis of knowledge. Knowledge itself does not necessarily produce growth. It can produce arrogance. This is why Paul says that knowledge puffs up.
But through God the Holy Spirit, as we take that information, that knowledge of the Word, and apply it, then God the Holy Spirit uses that in our lives to transform the way we think, and then transform the way we act.
So that those who are pursuing the spiritual life, pursuing spiritual growth in this life, are indeed following the mandates of being a disciple—that is being a student, a learner of Jesus—of what He has revealed to us in His Word from Genesis through Revelation.
This is why it is part of the emphasis in my ministry that we not just teach little short topical series, but that we teach through the Scripture verse-by-verse, word-by-word.
And even when we study topically they’re looking at what the Scripture has taught on a particular area as it is developed from Genesis through Revelation.
We’ve looked at these questions that are often difficult for us to face in our life. Questions like, are we willing to follow Jesus? What does that mean? That’s not just some little trite saying that sounds good, but truly to imitate His character, to apply His teaching in our life day by day.
Are we willing to take up our cross daily, which means are we willing to submit to the authority of God in every area of our life? We all struggle with that because we have many pet areas that we sort of want God to keep as hands off: “I’m comfortable with the sins; they work for me. You deal with me in other areas.”
The issue is that God wants 100 percent obedience. Are we really willing to do that, to take up our cross daily? That refers to submission to authority, and to deny ourselves.
Are we willing to deny ourselves, to put God’s will and God’s ways and God’s Word over our own, to give that priority? Which means are we willing to change our priorities? Are we willing to change our perspective in order to serve the Lord?
Are we willing to abide in His Word? In Scripture, Jesus said those who abide in His Word are His disciples indeed. That means that we not only let the Word abide in us—which is more than just showing up to Bible class and sitting here on Sunday morning or Tuesday or Thursday night or listening on the way to work—but it is letting ourselves be absorbed into His Word, to let it saturate our thinking.
All of this involves a lot of time. At the core of the English word “disciple” is the word “discipline.” We often think of discipline as something that is harsh, but discipline refers positively to a mastery of our desires, our sin nature, to self-mastery, that’s a fruit of the Spirit, self-control.
As we grow and mature we realize that part of what we need to do is to manage our time better, that we restructure our lives so that our priority of walking with the Lord is revealed by the way in which we use our time and organize our priorities.
We are to abide in His Word. We are to count the cost, that there is a cost. There are things that we will say no to that are fine and good. They may be okay for some other believer with his life, his situation to be involved in certain activities, hobbies, or whatever, but it just doesn’t fit within our priority scheme.
We may have to give up doing certain things, just because there’s something that’s more important. It is not a choice between good and bad; it’s a choice between good and best: that’s counting the cost.
We have to be willing also—that’s the last question we looked at last week—“Are we willing to love one another as Christ loved the church?” There’s a lot more to that than simply having good feelings towards other people.
In fact, that’s not the biblical view of love at all. Love in the Bible is a choice. Love is a matter of our mental attitude. It is a desire to do that which is best for the object of our love. “Best” is one of those terms that involves a value judgment, and the value judgment isn’t what we think is best, but in terms of God’s priorities and God’s Word.
What is best in an objective divine viewpoint sense, not in our personal sense? It is not doing what I want you to do; it’s doing that which we both need to do in terms of that which brings glory to God.
We have a title for the message; a question that we’re looking at that you might think came off of the title of one of those old 17th or 18th century books, where the titles of the book were longer than many books today.
“Are we willing to use the resources that God has given us according to God’s priorities and purposes?”
The key verse that we will introduce is in 1 Corinthians 4:1. Paul writes, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
That word “stewards” is one that has sometimes been developed into an aberrant doctrine of stewardship. Stewardship is one of those antiquated biblical words that a lot of people don’t understand.
Unfortunately most people associate a stewardship message with meeting budgetary needs or building programs or that annual message that twists everybody’s arm and puts a guilt complex on them, so they’ll give a lot more money.
That is a distortion of the biblical teaching, but giving is definitely a part of stewardship. But that’s only a small part of stewardship. It involves something much, much greater than that.
We are described here as servants and stewards. We will talk more about this verse as we go forward. In 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
This is part of walking by the Lord, is that we are faithful. That means as we see to be trustworthy, to be dependable, and to be responsible.
Instead of using the term stewardship, I prefer to use the phrase “responsible managers.” Because as the Scripture says, all in God’s creation has been provided for us, and we have a responsibility to administer it, manage it as unto the Lord, and that calls for responsible management.
C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity states, “Every faculty you have, your power of thinking, or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense, His already.”
The presupposition there is everything is the Lord’s.
That is exactly what we see in the verse we read this morning in Psalm 24, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.”
Psalm 24, along with a number of other creation psalms, are psalms that focus upon the sovereignty of God as the Creator of the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that is in them.
Because He created everything, He is the ultimate ruler of all things. But He created us, as we’ve been studying as part of our worship series on Tuesday nights. God created us in His image.
There is so much that’s packed into both Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 2:15, but I’ll just hit the high points here. God created us male and female in His image and in His likeness.
Those words imply that God created us as His representatives. We’re a finite package that is designed to represent God and to rule over His creation. It is designed in perfection to be a perfectly responsible rulership or dominion over everything that God created, to utilize and develop and to learn about every aspect of creation, and to develop it under the authority of God for His glory.
That is the original purpose for mankind. He is placed in the Garden, and the initial command given to Adam before Eve was created was to tend and to keep it. This doesn’t mean he’s a farmer.
As I have pointed out on Tuesday nights, these words are often used together to describe the priestly ministry of the Levites in the Mosaic Law. These are terms that bring to the minds of the Jews that were sitting there on the plains of Moab when Moses gave the Pentateuch to them that they were to serve God.
That’s the emphasis there. They are put on the earth to serve God. This is part of a priestly ministry given to all mankind, and we can transfer that by application to every Church Age believer who is a priest under the high priesthood of God that our purpose is to serve Him.
We have a priestly ministry. Also, when we combine this with Genesis 1:26, as I pointed out in our study on Tuesday nights, is that we’re to have dominion. That is a function of royalty, so we are royal priests.
That relates to the whole human race as they were in unfallen state. What we see in the progress of revelation is God eventually working to the point in the Millennial Kingdom in the future where Christ fulfills this mandate as the perfect God-Man, ruling over the earth.
We are His servants; we are serving God. We are royal priests. We are in training during the Church Age to serve Him in eternity.
I think this whole idea, regardless of some the areas where I would nitpick and disagree with him, when Jody Dillow wrote his first edition of his sort of theology of free grace; he called it Reign of the Servant Kings.
That term “servant king” captures this idea. We are to be servant kings; we’re in training now to be servant kings, to serve God. We have to learn how to serve because we will rule and reign with Christ in the future.
As we look at Genesis and the development of this, we see that God places man in the Garden and gives him responsibility to manage and administer all of creation for God.
We all know what happened because of sin and that the earth became corrupt, that man also became corrupt, so that management or stewardship of the earth also became corrupt.
That’s why it’s not going to be perfectly fulfilled until Christ comes back, and that original mandate is not the mandate for the Church Age. That is still somewhat there; we are to responsibly manage the resources of the earth.
We’re to responsibly manage the resources that God has given us, but the prime directive for the church is to make disciples; thus the purpose for this series.
As we look at what these passages emphasize, we learn that God is the One who owns everything. He owns all the resources of life. He is the One who provides our jobs. He provides our money. He provides our cars and our health and our homes. He provides us with the wives we have, men, and the husbands we have, ladies.
He provides us with the parents that we have, the children that we have. He provides us with our families and the blessings that come from our families. There is not anything in our life that God has not provided for us.
He’s given us the brains and the intelligence that we have in order to understand and to interact with people and with His creation. He provides everything for us; and therefore, everything that we have belongs to God.
As believers we have to come to grips with that, because as sinners we want to grasp after things, which is the idea that was expressed in the King James translation of the KENOSIS passage in Philippians 2:5–12, that Jesus did not consider deity something to be grasped after.
That’s what Adam and Eve did in the Garden when they reached for the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They are grabbing for that authority apart from God.
We are to manage it because everything that we have is from God. If you are a husband, then God has given you a wife, and your job is—I don’t want to use the term “manage her,” but to responsibly love her, care for her. That is your responsibility over her and your children.
That is one reason why I’ve been thinking about opening up the men’s prayer breakfast on Saturday mornings to young men and boys that are the age of 10 to 12, somewhere in there—it’s up to you to decide when they’re ready.
Those who can come and sit and be quiet and observe what men who are serious about their spiritual life do: that they read the Bible, that they talk about the Bible, that their relationship with God is something significant, something important, and something that they are concerned about.
That the idea of manhood that they pick up from the world is going to be radically challenged by looking at what real men do, and that is that they develop their spiritual life and their spiritual walk.
All of these things are part of our responsible management. Wives are to responsibly manage their husbands. How is that? You submit to him; you honor him; you respect him. That is part of responsible management within your sphere of responsibility. Children have a responsibility to honor their parents.
This idea of stewardship isn’t something that just deals with how you deal with your money so you give enough to the church. It has to do with the fact that God owns everything, so we have to decide how we’re going to manage everything in our life in a way that reflects His priorities, His principles, and applies His principles.
The problem that we have is we fail the prosperity test. We start doing well in life, and we think that it has something to do with us. We think, “Well, this is because I finally figured out that I have brains and I’ve gotten educated and I can work hard, that I have applied myself.”
We put our focus and attention on what we have done in order to make ourselves successful in whatever field we are in. It doesn’t matter whether you are working as a mechanic, whether you are working as a laborer or a gardener or landscaper, whether you are working as a CEO of a company.
You recognize that everything that we have and everything that we do has to come under the authority of God. But often we slip into thinking that what I have is because I did so much to earn it.
In Deuteronomy 8, Moses is talking to the Israelites; he is giving them a warning. He reminds them of all that God provided for them in the midst of their poverty test, when they were in the wilderness for 40 years. They had to deal with the fact that there were many places they went when there wasn’t much water, if any.
Just take a trip sometime to Israel with me as we travel to the Negev, and you see how bleak it is, how barren it is. There are wells and places of water here and there, but it is, especially in the summer, which goes from probably the beginning of February until the beginning of January, it is hot and it is dry and it is barren.
God provided for them day in and day out. He provided water miraculously; He provided food for them in different ways. He provided that their clothes, their shoes, did not wear out for those 40 years. God was teaching them that His grace is sufficient.
No matter what circumstance you and I find ourselves in, the same God that supplied the needs of the Israelites under divine discipline in the wilderness is the same God that supplies our needs, whatever they may be. He was the source of their needs.
There is a warning that Moses gave them. When we get down to Deuteronomy 8:14, he warns them, “When your heart is lifted up …” That is when you get into the land and you experience the bounty of God, and you have established your farms and your flocks, and everything is going well.
He warns them, “When your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your Fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end.”
That’s the poverty test. It’s designed to teach humility, to teach us to trust God that He is the One who provides everything.
When we get into the prosperity test, that’s the warning in Deuteronomy 8:17, “then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ ”
That’s the temptation we all have, to think that what we have is a result of our own efforts, our own work, our own intelligence, our own talents: we did it. So this is a warning.
Deuteronomy 8:18, “And you shall remember—so when you’re tempted to think you did it all—you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth.”
How did you get your wealth?” Through your brain. Where did your brain come from? Where do talents come from? Where did your abilities come from? Where did your education come from?
Where did the resources come from to pay for all of that? Who gave you the talents and the skills and the abilities that you developed in order to use? It all comes from God. He gives us the means and He is the One who produces that wealth for us.
The principle is that all that we have, our time—every minute of every day—belongs to the Lord. This is why you see the different sacrifices in Leviticus described, the morning and evening sacrifice because the whole day belongs to the Lord from morning to evening and then to morning the next day.
The entire day belongs to the Lord: day after day after day, not just the feast days. Those are special days, but day in and day out, everything all the time that we have belongs to the Lord.
It is put on loan to us and sadly because of sin, we have defrauded God of that time. We have robbed God of that time that could be used in service to Him in carrying out His plans and His purposes for us.
Second, we have talents. By talents I am describing both our physical talents, the physical skills, the mental abilities, the physical talents that are just ours as part of our birth, part of our DNA package, part of the skills we develop, as well as our spiritual gifts that are given to us at the moment of salvation. Those abilities are the Lord’s, and the Lord gave all of that to us.
We have time, we have talents, and we have treasures. Often when we hear the word “treasure” we think in terms of material things, we think in terms of financial wealth, we think in terms of financial prosperity. But the treasures that we have extend much beyond that. That’s a shallow way of thinking about it.
It involves our family; it involves our spouses, our children, and our friends. Our treasures involve our jobs, our careers, our ability to do that which brings glory to God and pleasure to us. It involves our homes, our cars; it involves the hobbies that we have. These are treasures in our life.
God provides all of these to us to manage responsibly under His sovereign control, under the priorities and the prescriptions that are given in the Scripture for us: how we are to live.
We have to ultimately learn that we don’t own these things. The car you have is God’s. You may be paying for it, but He gives you the job to get the check to pay for it. He gave you the skills and the ability to get the job to pay for it. That car is His, so if by chance that car gets stolen tomorrow, that’s the Lord’s problem, and it is not yours.
It is not for us to get upset about because we have lost this, because God is the One who is in control. We need to learn to relax and trust Him because He is the One who understands the issues.
I look back on my life so many times, and think through certain things, I think, “I really thought X, Y, or Z was the path I should’ve chosen, and if I had done that, what a mess I would have made.” When the Lord guided me, directed me in a different path because there wasn’t any other way to go.
I don’t know about you, but usually when I end up making the tough decisions, it is because the Lord has shut every other door, and I have to make that decision because that’s the only way to go.
I didn’t really want to go that way, and maybe at times it was a very unpleasant and uncomfortable time, but when I look back on it, I just thank God for it because at the time I didn’t have the perspective to understand what He was doing.
We are managing that which God has given us. We are not owners of what we think we have. God is, and God has the right to give it and to remove it. As Job said, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” He understood this principle that everything that he had was God’s.
An owner emphasizes personal rights: I have a right to this. Recently, I saw on a television drama, an episode involving an MD who had gotten involved in various gambling debts and other things.
Part of what was going on was that he felt like since he was a doctor, so he was entitled to a certain type of car, a certain place to live, a certain lifestyle because that’s what he thought people expected of a doctor. He said, “But I have a right to this,” but he was doing it in a wrong way.
We don’t have rights to anything. We have responsibilities, and what the Scripture emphasizes is that a steward has responsibilities; he is a responsible manager.
Look at our central passage this morning; Paul is speaking to the Corinthians. In the context he is reminding them of his position, his authority, and his responsibilities.
But what he says has broader implications for every believer in light of other teaching in Scripture recorded, related to the fact that we are all servants of Christ, and we are all stewards or responsible managers of that which God has given us.
1 Corinthians 4:1, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ.”
This is an interesting word; it’s a synonym for DIAKONOS, which is the word we would expect there. DIAKONOS is often translated “a minister,” so that too has another tone to it. But the term HYPERETES also has that same overtone.
I think here he chooses this as a particularly significant word because it involves people who are in arenas of responsibility as servants. So he is using a term that we might translate more specifically as a responsible servant.
The word is used in Scripture to refer to the servants of the chief priests and the Pharisees. It is used to refer to the officers of the synagogue. It is used to refer to officers of the court, as well as those who are ministers of the Word. It is emphasizing a responsible aspect of being a servant.
He says that we are “… stewards of the mysteries of God.”
I think the word “stewardship” is not a word that you’re going to see if you watch TV shows all day long, every day for the next month. I don’t think you will hear the word “steward” or “stewardship” once. It’s not a popular term.
It is an important concept and a biblical concept. It is the word OIKONOMOS in the Greek, which breaks down, “house” and “law.” OIKOS is house; NOMOS is law. That’s the etymology of it. It refers to somebody who is a ruler over a household, somebody who is the manager of the household under the owner of the household.
It comes to refer to an administrator, a manager, a servant in that particular area that stewards have as part of their position and responsibilities that they must carry out.
Part of the responsibility that Paul has, as the apostles had, that’s really the “us” in the passage, is the mysteries of God. “Mystery” refers to previously unrevealed revelation, so it’s talking about Scripture.
In their role and responsibility as apostles, they were delivering new revelation to the church. In our role we don’t have that responsibility, but we are to be faithful stewards, faithful managers of the Word that we have, that which has been revealed to us in the 66 books of the Bible.
We are to come to understand it thoroughly, so that we can use it responsibly. That entails another principle that we have seen in discipleship is that we are to abide in the Word. We are responsible managers, users of the Word of God. That means we have to learn it, we have to internalize it, we have to apply it.
In 1 Corinthians 4:2, Paul says, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
I thought the word “required” would be a different Greek word there. When I looked it up, it is the word ZETEO, which means to seek something. It has the idea of desiring something, to wish for something.
What he is saying is: what we desire to have in a steward, what we wish to be present in the life of an administrator, that he is faithful.
That is the Greek word PISTOS, which can mean faithful in terms of the sense of someone who is full of faith, but here it is more the idea of someone who is reliable, trustworthy, dependable.
When they are given tasks and responsibilities, you can count on them to carry out that task and responsibility. That is what a disciple does. A disciple is one who faithfully carries out the desires of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This informs us of our basic meaning of the word “disciple.” A disciple is someone who is to abide in the Word and let the Word abide in him. We’re to be saturated by Scripture.
That becomes a challenge in life because many people work in different jobs. Some people work eight hours a day, some people work 10 hours a day, and some people work 12 hours a day. That doesn’t leave a lot of disposable time.
So in the time left over, we have to decide how we’re going to administer or manage that time. What amount of that time, what percentage, is going to be able to go for our personal spiritual growth, our personal Bible study, our personal reading of the Scripture, going to church, Bible class, etc., paying attention and prioritizing our spiritual life?
What part goes to our marriage? What part goes to our family? What part goes to just relaxation, recharging our batteries, resting? These are all biblically responsible things to do, and how we’re going to manage that and accomplish that which God has called us to do in terms of our spiritual life.
As disciples we’re to abide in the Word and the Word abides with us, so we have to use the Word, learn it and apply it in our lives in a dependable manner.
We are also to be managers, responsible administrators of the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has given us.
For example, 1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another …” We’re to serve one another. The gifts were not given for self-edification; the gifts are given to serve. In terms of communication gifts and leadership gifts, to edify other believers. Peter says, “… as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
We administer the grace of God. God has graciously given us everything pertaining to life and godliness. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies is what we’ll be studying in the first chapter of Ephesians.
We are given all of these grace blessings. We have to learn what they are, we have to learn what they mean in their significance for our spiritual life, and then we have to learn how to properly use those. That’s what responsible stewardship is. That’s discipleship. It is letting the Word of Christ richly dwell within us.
It reminds us that “… all things were created through Him and for Him,” Colossians 1:16. All things were created through Christ. God the Father is the Architect; God the Son is the One who carries out the work of creation.
I would liken Him to the building supervisor, manager, the construction engineer that puts it all together, and it is for Him—purpose clause—all things, not some things; all things. Everything in our life is there for Christ.
The question that we have in the challenge of discipleship is are we willing to let that work itself out in every area of our life, or are there just some areas that are hands-off because we get personal pleasure from those endeavors?
Whatever they are they may or may not involve sin. It may become sin if it becomes idolatrous, and it gets in the way of our relationship with the Lord.
Third, we see that we are to responsibly manage the time that God has given us. We each have a finite amount of time on this earth. God is the One who is in charge of that. I cannot do anything to add a minute or lose a minute from my time.
Even those who think they’re doing it through committing suicide, God has permissive will and He may not permit it. I know of people who have tried numerous times to take their own life, and God has prevented it because ultimately God is the One who is in charge.
We have a set amount of time. We can use it for our personal pleasure; we can use that to glorify our lust patterns and to feed our sin nature and our arrogance. But what the Scripture teaches is we are to redeem the time; that is in Ephesians 5:16.
I put the context up here for us because that’s important. In Ephesians 4–6, the last three chapters of Ephesians, we’re going to see the word “walk” again and again and again. The last half of Ephesians is about how do we walk, how do we live our lives.
The first three chapters talk about what God has done for us and provided for us in salvation; all of those spiritual blessings that he talks about in Ephesians 1:3. In light of that, what Paul says in chapters 4–6 is this is how we live.
In Ephesians 5:15 he says, “See then that you walk circumspectly …”
I don’t know how many of you have used that word in the last month. I suspect not many. The Greek word is AKRIBOS, which means something that we’ve done diligently, precisely, intentionally, or purposely.
We’ve thought it through, and then we have engaged in it. It has been purposeful activity. “See that you walk circumspectly” means see that you live your life in a diligent manner in relation to the Word, that you are engaged in things because of its relationship to God, and you’ve thought through what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and its relationship to your spiritual life.
Those who do not walk circumspectly, intentionally, diligently, purposefully are fools. They’re just bouncing back and forth from one event to another, doing whatever brings them immediate pleasure.
We are not to live that way. We are to live as those who are wise. Those who live according to the lust of the sin nature are living as fools.
Now how do we do that? That’s the next phrase. In English it’s translated like a gerund or a participle—just the ING, “redeeming.” But it’s a participle in the Greek, which means this is how you do it; it’s a participle of means.
It should be translated, “See that you walk circumspectly by redeeming the time.” In other words, you have to prioritize your life. You have to look at how you manage time. You have to have enough time to sleep. You have a have enough time to rest and recover. You have to have time for recreation. You have to have time for work. You have to divide it up, and this is going to change through your life.
There are times when you are in school when you’re young, when you have somebody else dictating so much that you’re giving your life to, and then when you finally graduate from school, do things you want to do because you have financial resources now to be able to do that.
Later you may get married, you will have children, and as we go through the stages of life, there are different amounts of time that is ours to really dispose of and to determine.
We have to buy it back: EXAGORAZO. Our time on the earth has been corrupted. Man has defrauded God of this time. So now we are purchasing that back from the corruption of sin. That’s the idea in EXAGORAZO. It’s also used for redemption—of Christ buying us out of the slave market of sin.
We are to redeem the time “because the days are evil,” Ephesians 5:16. That’s a time word: the days are evil—time that is not intentionally used in reference to our spiritual life. Now it doesn’t mean we’re always reading the Bible, it doesn’t mean we’re always going to Bible class or talking about the Lord.
Because God has given us jobs, careers, all these other things that are part of our responsible management, and so that is part of how we redeem the time as well, so that it doesn’t go into the category of that which is wasted and that which is useless and that which is evil.
The conclusion in 5:17 is “Therefore do not be unwise …”
Again, we have a contrast between unwise and understanding. This word “understanding” is SUNIEMI, which doesn’t mean just simply, “Oh yeah, I get it.”
It is much deeper than that. It has to do with truly thinking through things. We are to understand what the will of the Lord is. The object is something that is not easily grasped.
Understanding what the will of the Lord is means that we have to be in the Word to truly understand who God is. To understand His plans and purposes for our life, to understand our spiritual life, we have to understand what the will of the Lord is. That involves greater concentration and comprehension than just simply, “Oh yeah, I get it.”
John 8:31 again applies, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.”
Looking at the time, I have only gotten through half of this message, what it means to responsibly use what God has provided for us. So now that we have the introduction, we will come back and look at the rest of it next Sunday morning.
“Father, we are thankful that we have Your Word to challenge us. There is not a person in this room that has it all together spiritually, and none of us ever will because we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world. But Your grace has provided us with so much that we can redeem the time, we can buy back that time through biblical priorities and the application of Your Word.
“That presupposes that we know Your Word. Some here are pressing on, have time, have a lot more time than perhaps they’ve had in the past, and they’re doing a lot more. Others are young, they’re wrestling with many different responsibilities; they’re in a different place.
“Father, we all know, we’ve all been there; we all know that we can do it. We can set aside the time to really focus on You, to learn Your Word, to study Your Word, to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and this is the challenge.
“Under this concept of responsible management, are we willing to responsibly manage all of the resources of our life according to Your priorities and purposes? Father, we pray that You would challenge each of us in these areas.
“Father, we pray too for those who may be listening to this message, may be here as a visitor, that may not understand that salvation is not based on being a disciple, salvation is based on what Christ did on the Cross.
“It’s believing that He is the eternal Son of God who died on the Cross for our sins. He paid that penalty and that we simply receive salvation as a free gift. But after we are saved, we have to decide what we’re going to do with this new spiritual life: Are we going to responsibly grow and mature or are we going to just live our lives now for ourselves as we have in the past?
“Father, we pray that those who are not saved will clearly understand the gospel, the free grace, the free gift of salvation, and that the rest of us would understand that day in and day out, we have to address these questions of discipleship:
“Are we willing to do that which is necessary to responsibly manage that which You have provided for us according to Your principles of Your Word and the priorities laid therein?
“Father, we pray that we would be positively responsive to this challenge.
“In Christ’s name. Amen.”