“Indeed, everyone to whom much was given, much will be demanded of him, and the one whom people put in charge of much, they will demand more than usual of him.”—Luke 12:48. NW.
1. What responsibility has a steward?
A STEWARD is one who looks after or guards, having management of either real or personal estate or of both. A chief steward becomes in effect an overseer, an administrator, a governor. Stewardship and responsibility go hand in hand. Having responsibility means being answerable for the discharge of a duty or trust; being accountable to a rightful superior; being able to respond or answer for one’s conduct and obligation; being one who is trustworthy.
2. Mention some Scriptural requirements for a steward.
2 The apostle Peter expresses the close connection between stewardship and responsibility when he says: “In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as the right kind of stewards over God’s undeserved kindness which is expressed in various ways.” And Paul says: “Let a man so appraise us as being subordinates of Christ and stewards of sacred secrets of God. Besides, in this case, what is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful.” “For an overseer must be free from accusation as God’s steward, not self-willed, not prone to wrath, not a drunken brawler, not a smiter, not greedy of dishonest gain, but a lover of strangers.”—1 Pet. 4:10; 1 Cor. 4:1, 2; Titus 1:7, 8, NW.
3. How did Paul recognize his responsibility as a steward?
3 Paul clearly recognized his responsibility for his charge when he wrote: “You have heard about the stewardship of the undeserved kindness of God which was given me with you in view, that by way of a revelation the sacred secret was made known to me.” “I became a minister of this congregation in accordance with the stewardship from God which was given me in your interest to preach the word of God thoroughly.” “According to the glorious good news of the happy God, with which I was entrusted.” “Just as we have been proved by God as fit to be entrusted with the good news, so we speak, as pleasing, not men, but God, who makes proof of our hearts.”—Eph. 3:2, 3; Col. 1:25; 1 Tim. 1:11; 1 Thess. 2:4, NW.
4. With what responsibility do Jehovah and Christ Jesus give interests into the care of the stewards?
4 Jehovah God through Christ Jesus has entrusted great interests into the care of the true people of God in these last days. This is of utmost concern to all dedicated to Jehovah’s service. To all God’s slaves or stewards the following illustration is given: “A certain man of noble birth . . . calling ten slaves of his . . . gave them ten minas and told them: ‘Do business till I come.’ . . . Eventually when he arrived home after having secured the kingly power, he commanded to be called to him these slaves to whom he had given the silver money, in order to ascertain what they had gained by business activity. Then the first one presented himself, saying: ‘Lord, your mina, by trading, went up to ten minas.’ So he said to him: ‘Well done, good slave! Because in a very small matter you have proved yourself faithful, accept authority over ten cities.’ But a different one came, saying: ‘Lord, here is your mina, that I kept laid away in a cloth. You see, I was in fear of you, because you are a harsh man; you take up what you did not deposit and you reap what you did not sow.’ With that he said to those standing by: ‘Take the mina from him and give it to him that has the ten minas.’ But they said to him: ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ . . . ‘I say to you, To everyone that has, more will be given; but from the one that does not have, even what he has will be taken away.’” (Luke 19:12-17, 20, 21, 24-26, NW) Here is shown how the King handed interests of the Kingdom into the custody of his slaves and expected increase. Approval for increase, disapproval for failure to increase, are definitely expressed. The same principle is emphasized by the illustration of the talents, at Matthew 25:14-30. There can be no standing still.
5. State some of the interests committed to the disciples.
5 The Lord Jesus certainly committed interests to the care of his disciples when he said: “I have given your word to them.” ‘I have made your name manifest to them.’ “I have given them the glory which you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one.” (John 17:6, 14, 22, NW) “The kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a nation producing its fruits.” (Matt. 21:43, NW) “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32, NW) Then Paul states: “All things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of the reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:17, 18, NW) “Keep watching the ministry which you accepted in the Lord, that you fulfill it.” (Col. 4:17, NW) “You, though, keep your balance in all things, suffer evil, do missionary work, thoroughly accomplish your ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:5, NW) These are a few of the many scriptures showing some of the precious interests given into the care of God’s people, namely, the Word of Jehovah, the name of Jehovah, the kingdom of God, the ministry of reconciliation and work of evangelists.
6. Why must interests of the Kingdom be increased, and is this reasonable, and why?
6 The interests entrusted must be increased, for the rule of Scripture is fixed: “To everyone that has, more will be given; but from the one that does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” (Luke 19:26, NW) This is a rule of justice. Encouragement is given to the industrious. Those who go out of their way to do things should have their opportunities of Kingdom service enlarged. Those who work for increase Jehovah blesses, and gives them increase. The ones who are negligent and slothful lose what they have. Therefore we must treasure our opportunities of Kingdom service with great care and come into line with the Scriptural rule. The reward for faithful, diligent service is greater responsibility. Walking in the fear of Jehovah and with fervent prayer is the way to qualify for increased privileges.
7. What advantage is there for us in considering Joseph and his stewardship?
7 There are many Scriptural examples, but only one will be dealt with now and that is the experience of Joseph. The blessing of Jehovah was with Joseph because of faithful stewardship, and it is to our profit to consider his record. There is one thing sure and that is that prosperity comes through friendship with Jehovah. It is interesting to note that, in the first six verses of Genesis chapter 39 Ge 39:1-6 (NW), mention is made five times that Joseph had Jehovah’s favor. “But Jehovah proved to be with Joseph so that he turned out a successful man . . . And his master got to see that Jehovah was with him . . . everything he was doing Jehovah was making turn out successful in his hand. . . . Jehovah kept blessing the house of the Egyptian due to Joseph, . . . Jehovah’s blessing came to be upon all that he had in the house and in the field.” As a result note the further success stated: “Finally he left everything that was his in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what was with him at all except the bread he was eating.” A marvelous record of a faithful steward fully discharging his responsibility.
8. Mention some of the blessings of friendship with Jehovah, as clearly indicated by the experiences of Joseph.
8 Joseph feared God. A person who is more afraid of displeasing Jehovah than he is of displeasing humans can be trusted. To walk with Jehovah is a blessed state, and God’s slaves are always happy in their service regardless of the assignment. The friendship of Jehovah must be sought after and prayed for, and attained by doing those things that will gain it. There is no better companion for a journey, and happy are those who realize Jehovah’s presence with them wherever they are, for then no place is lonely. He is with us in the severest of trials, and even the loss of something or someone will make us cherish his fellowship more than ever before. If Jehovah is truly with us then he is just as near on land or sea, in any country or condition. He is our friend and companion; yes, the fear and fellowship of Jehovah are the best protection we could ever have. The glory of Jehovah is reflected in the blessedness and happiness of his children. Because of our acknowledging him in all our ways he directs our paths. O happy people of Jehovah to have such companionship and assurances!
9. Show how stewardship can bring temptations, and how these may be successfully met.
9 Temptations will still come to those who are faithful stewards of Jehovah God. Even though conscious of his blessing we are not immune from dangers and therefore must always walk in the fear of Jehovah. And so it was with Joseph, for a dreadful experience came into his life. The record states: “Moreover, Joseph grew to be beautiful in form and beautiful in appearance. Now after these things it came about that the wife of his master began to raise her eyes toward Joseph and say: ‘Cohabit with me.’ But he would refuse and would say to his master’s wife: ‘Here my master does not know what is with me in the house and everything he has he has given into my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I am, and he has not withheld from me anything at all except you, because you are his wife. So how could I commit this great wickedness and actually sin against God?’” Joseph, when she persisted and grabbed him by his garment, left his garment and took flight. Here, then, is the safe course for faithful stewards to take today. When confronted with temptation, flee from it, for if you try to reason it may mean you will lose the battle. Flight is the safe way. Do so in haste, as when running from a poisonous snake;—get out of danger. See how Joseph got protection in his instant recognition of the fact that the suggestion was “actually sin against God.” The fear of Jehovah will likewise be our safety. Do not sin against God. No one goes extremely wicked all at once, but, rather, weakens gradually. On the other hand, by the fear of Jehovah one departs from evil and is safe.—Gen. 39:6-9, NW.
THE BLESSING OF JEHOVAH
10. Why is Jehovah’s blessing essential, and how can it be gained?
10 Every one of God’s people desires his blessing. “The blessing of Jehovah, it maketh rich; and he addeth no sorrow therewith.” (Prov. 10:22, AS) “The blessing of the Lord is upon the head of the righteous, it enriches him and grief of heart shall not be added to it.” (Septuagint) It is also written: “And you must remember Jehovah your God, because he is the giver of power to you to make wealth, in order to carry out his covenant that he swore to your forefathers, as at this day.” (Deut. 8:18, NW) Everything depends upon Jehovah’s blessing, but it is never given for the accomplishment of a selfish purpose, only to accomplish his will. “When acceptable to Yahweh are the ways of a man even his enemies doth he cause to make peace with him.” (Prov. 16:7, Roth.) The blessing of Jehovah is obtained by doing those things he commands, by really pleasing him. Certainly we must not act on our own initiative unless it is first approved. Jesus said: “When once you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing of my own initiative, but just as the Father taught me I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me; he did not abandon me to myself, because I always do the things pleasing to him.” (John 8:28, 29, NW) Jesus was a faithful steward and carried his responsibility and so gained a full reward. He is our perfect example.
11. What course must be followed and what shunned to gain Jehovah’s blessing?
11 To be enriched by Jehovah’s blessing we must be always busy in his service. This means diligence, real effort being put forth at all times, and having great patience and determination to attend to the work on hand and see it is done, following through with assigned tasks. Certainly it does not mean to evade responsibility, to make excuses to escape blame. It is of no use for a steward who is seeking approval to say or do those things that let one out and so avoid the charge laid on one’s shoulders for not giving attention to some matter. One is not dependable when he sidesteps responsibility, neither will Jehovah be pleased with such conduct. If one is to obtain the blessing of Jehovah, then his must be a self-sacrificing spirit, not one of self-indulgence, which leads a man to please himself rather than Jehovah. It means having honesty, purity, fidelity, loyalty and dependability.
FAITHFUL AND DISCREET SLAVE
12. Who is the “faithful and discreet slave,” and why do you say so?
12 Jesus said: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.” (Matt. 24:45-47, NW) Those belonging to Jehovah’s organization know that the “faithful and discreet slave” is a class made up of the faithful remnant of God’s anointed ones, gathered now in one company and working together under the direction and authority of the governing body of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Readers not yet associated with Jehovah’s witnesses may have a little hesitation in accepting this statement, but the manifestation of Jehovah’s blessing upon the activities of this class of anointed Christians will certainly aid you to appreciate the truth of it and will surely cause any doubts or misgivings to disappear. As a result it will bring happiness to you, because you will be helped to see that the Most High God, Jehovah, is now dealing with his people and his blessing is with them.
13. What publication amply expresses the aims and policies of the Society, and with what result?
13 The official magazine of the Society is The Watchtower and it has been published since July, 1879, and never has one issue missed publication. It has now reached a circulation of 2,800,000 copies of each issue and is printed in forty-six languages. It would help the reader just to turn to the inside of the front cover and read there the purpose of the magazine. You will see it warns of danger, announces good news, always sees things Scripturally, is alert to what is going on, points the way of escape, announces Jehovah’s kingdom, feeds Christ’s spiritual joint heirs with spiritual food, cheers men of good will with glorious prospects of eternal life, and in the interests of salvation it keeps sharp and faithful focus on Bible truths. Here are expressed the aims, ideals and policies of the Society. It has gained success and the blessing of Jehovah.
14. (a) How has the “faithful and discreet slave” class discharged its domestic responsibilities? (b) Contrast the conditions inside and outside the Lord’s household.
14 The “faithful and discreet slave” was appointed over the household to give them their food at the proper time. This has been done faithfully. Truths pertaining to the Kingdom, the second presence of Christ, the fulfillment of prophecy, Satan and his world and the end of his world have been served as rich, nourishing spiritual food to the household of faith for seventy-seven years. It is written: “Every public instructor, when taught respecting the kingdom of the heavens, is like a man, a householder, who brings out of his treasure store things new and old.” (Matt. 13:52, NW) As food has been supplied more has been provided, for there is no lack of spiritual food. No one hears of a famine for food in Jehovah’s organization. “He would feed them also with the finest of the wheat; and with honey out of the rock would I satisfy thee.” (Ps. 81:16, AS) Outside the household is a famine: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord Jehovah, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of Jehovah, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11, 12, AS) “There is that scattereth, and increaseth yet more; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth only to want.” (Prov. 11:24, AS) As a result Jehovah’s people are spiritually strong and vigorous, being well cared for by the “steward” class. Constant care of the household has gained Jehovah’s blessing, and this is a fulfillment of prophecy. So those who would have the same blessing must perform the same kind of service.
15. What outstanding service has the steward class performed with Jehovah’s help and blessing? And how does Paul refer to it?
15 This same anointed remnant, or “slave” class, has faithfully carried its responsibility in seeing to it that the Bible alone has been our guide. True doctrine has produced pure worship. Discarding theories and traditions of men and organizations, it has held tenaciously to the book of wisdom, God’s Word. Jehovah’s witnesses now know the Bible is true, as stated: “Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17, NW) Today the word of God is bound up in them. The sacred pronouncements of God have been committed to them. Yes, the valuable treasure of divine revelation has been lodged with this faithful slave class. It is a testimony and a law to which God attests. We do not add or take from these. They are letters from Jehovah God to his people, proclamations under seal, safely deposited now with his faithful ones. Paul declares: “Keep holding the pattern of healthful words which you heard from me with the faith and love that are in connection with Christ Jesus. This beautiful trust guard through the holy spirit which is dwelling in us.” (2 Tim. 1:13, 14, NW) This steward is now the custodian of the pure Word of Jehovah God. (Isa. 8:16, AS) This fact is a fulfillment of prophecy, bringing with it Jehovah’s blessing. If you also would receive the blessing, then hold to the truth and believe with all your heart and act upon it.
16. What very practical work has been accomplished by this faithful steward prior to and since 1918?
16 Another responsibility entrusted to this faithful class that has received attention and been accomplished has been the gathering together of the ‘chosen ones,’ as foretold at Matthew 24:31 (NW): “And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet-sound and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.” In November, 1880, The Watchtower published an article entitled “Gathering to Christ,” using as the key text Psalm 50:5: “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice,” clearly showing that the gathering was not after death but on earth at the end of the system of things. This gathering continued until in 1918 thousands were assembled to be judged when Jehovah suddenly came to his temple. (See The Watchtower of November 15, 1955, page 695.) Since 1918 the judging has gone on, cleansing this temple class, refining and purifying them so they will form a building for Jehovah to inhabit by spirit. (Eph. 2:22, NW) No other organization on earth has endured the trials, the purging, the heat, the persecution. In fact, no other body of people has the evidences of Jehovah’s severity, chastisement, mercy and undeserved kindness as this people.
17. How have Jehovah’s dealings with this servant class demonstrated their relationship to him as foretold?
17 For nearly forty years now Jehovah’s dealings with them have been demonstrated. Thousands have been rejected and turned out of the organization because they were sinners and hypocrites. “The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling hath seized the godless ones: Who among us can dwell with the devouring fire? who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isa. 33:14, AS) The next few verses show who shall abide. Those of the anointed remnant who have withstood the fire of God’s judgment and have abode his wrath and displeasure are now happy, Isaiah 33:17 (AS) stating: “Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold a land that reacheth afar.” O happy blessed anointed of God, your land is good, your King is with you! Now is fulfilled: “One body there is, and one spirit, even as you were called in the one hope to which you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father . . . until we all attain to the oneness in the faith, . . . to a full-grown man, to the measure of growth that belongs to the fullness of the Christ.” (Eph. 4:4-6, 13, NW) This also is a fulfillment of one of the great signs of the end of this evil system of things. Hence Jehovah’s blessing is seen so much in evidence. Would you also have his blessing? Then join with God’s anointed in their service, with unity and in praise of Jehovah God, working under their direction in peace.
18. What more extensive activity must yet be brought to a successful conclusion in what limited time period?
18 After the work of gathering together the remnant of the anointed, the little flock, other gathering has to be done. Jesus said: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16, NW) And at Revelation 7:9 (NW): “After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne.” The gathering of this great crowd of “other sheep” has been going on since the year 1931, particularly since 1935, until now the number gathered far exceeds the number of those who were anointed first to do the gathering. It is like a miracle. The number recognized as of the anointed on earth today is about 16,000 and yet the number of those gathered and proclaiming the Kingdom message is now 642,000. This is only through Jehovah’s blessing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. He has given prosperity and success to this great work and yet there may be hundreds of thousands more to be gathered before the ‘great and dreadful day of Jehovah,’ before the world destruction at Armageddon. Can you see his wonderful blessing today? Do you also want his blessing? If so, then do the same works as performed by those who have gained this blessing. The way is open before you; no one will hinder, indeed many will gladly help you to get this blessing. This accomplished ministry is also a fulfillment of prophecy and cannot be denied successfully.
19. What other marvelous fulfillments of prophecy may be seen as unfolding since A.D. 1914?
19 The King Christ Jesus gave promise that one of the signs of the times proving the end of Satan’s world would be: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.” (Matt. 24:14, NW) The King was enthroned in heaven in 1914 as earth’s rightful ruler. The Kingdom is here. True it is that much work has had to be done by the King in preparation for the removal of the old kingdom of Satan and we are very close to the final showdown. Before this happens it is essential to gather all the “little flock” and the “great crowd” and to warn the world of its end. But the glorious good news of the Kingdom will be preached world-wide. Since the year 1922 in a very special way this ‘good news of the established kingdom’ has been proclaimed; yes, more than thirty-four years of intensified advertising of earth’s new King and the Kingdom. This message is being preached in 160 lands by more than 642,000 ministers. The world has heard the proclamation and is without excuse. So a world-wide fulfillment of prophecy is taking place before our eyes, all this under the direction and with the authority of Jehovah’s “faithful and discreet slave” class. His blessing has been and is today upon the great work. Do you desire Jehovah’s favor and blessing? Then follow the lead and course set by this faithful class and go forward and tell others of the Kingdom and its blessings.