Wednesday, March 1, 2017
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF GRACE
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God given to me for you, how that by revelation he made known to me the mystery . . . (Ephesians 3:1-3).
Paul saw himself as a responsible steward of the grace of God that had been poured into his life. He never divorced grace from responsibility as is being done in so many circles today.
There was no question in Paul’s mind that it was the grace of God that apprehended him that day on the Damascus Road. This angry religious zealot, bent on destroying those early followers of Jesus, was arrested in love, transformed into a committed follower of Christ and called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.
With that work of grace, however, came an incredible sense of responsibility that Paul carried for the rest of his life. This is clearly expressed in his letter to the Ephesians where he speaks of this responsibility and links it with God’s marvelous work of grace in his life.
He expresses this responsibility in Ephesians 3:2 by using a Greek word that has been translated “dispensation” in the NKJV and “administration” in the NIV. The Greek word is oikonomia and it referred to the management or administration of a household. It was used in regards to a steward or manager who was responsible for looking after someone else’s property.
By using oikonomia, Paul obviously sees himself as a steward of the grace that has been given to him. He literally says, The stewardship (oikonomia) of the grace of God that was given to me for you (Ephesians 3:2). Notice that this grace was given to Paul for him to convey to others, and this is where the responsible stewardship comes in to play. Paul then delineates the nature of this stewardship in his use of the word “mystery.”
The word “mystery,” from the Greek word musterion, was not a riddle or puzzle to be solved. It was, instead, something that had been hidden but was now being brought out into the open. For Paul, this “mystery” now being revealed was that, through the Gospel, Gentiles are fellow heirs with the Jews, of the same body and sharers in God’s promises (Ephesians 3:6).
Paul sees this “mystery” as something that has been entrusted to him by God. He sees himself as a steward of this “mystery,” responsible before God to make it known to the Gentile world. In Ephesians chapter 3, he consistently links the grace of God in his life with his sense of responsibility to steward that work of grace.
In verse 7, for example, he says, I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of his power. Paul’s ministry, that took him through imprisonments, beatings, shipwreck and all sorts of trials, was a result of his sense of responsibility to steward the gift that had been given him by God’s grace, and take the Gospel to the Gentile world.
In verse 8 he says, To me, who am less the least of all saints, was this grace given that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Notice that God’s grace was given to lead Paul into a life of righteous action—that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Paul saw himself as a steward, responsible to manage that which God had graciously entrusted to him.
What about you? Are you a good steward of God’s grace in your life? Maybe he has blessed you with certain gifts, talents or abilities? Maybe, like Paul, he has called you to a particular ministry? Maybe he has blessed you with financial wealth?
Whatever grace has been poured into our lives, we are responsible for that which He has entrusted to us. And one day we will all give an account for our stewardship. As Paul said in II Corinthians 5:10,
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done whether good or bad.
This article was derived from a course Dr. Eddie Hyatt is teaching on Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. You can join this teaching, live and online, each Tuesday evening by going to his website, www.eddiehyatt.com, and clicking on the "Live Streaming" button.