I never will forget the look on his face. He was a brave and honest man and his spiritual journey had brought him to the Orthodox Church. He had taken the classes I required to become a catechumen. He had attended services as I had asked, so, when he was made a catechumen he asked a natural questions. “Father, how long will I be a catechumen before I am made one of the faithful?” A natural and sensible question. So, you can imagine a bit of his surprise and confusion when I responded “I don’t know.” He cocked his head to one side and squinted his eyes and said “Huh?”
“Yes, I don’t know how long you will be a catechumen.” I did go on to explain to him that the real revelation to this answer was in his proper question he had asked. He wanted to know when he was going to be one of the faithful. Well, the only way to be one of the faithful is to be one of the faithful. And that takes being faithful. So, how long? the answer is when you are what you say you are. When you’re faithful then you’re one of the faithful. Simple, right?
Maybe simple, but not easy. You see, there is no escaping the challenge in the faith to always strive to be what you say you are. No wonder the faith constantly calls us to actually BE all those wonderful words we say about we followers of Jesus Christ. But that’s the rub, isn’t it? Actually BEING a follower of Christ calls us to actually FOLLOW Him. Mimic His actions, attitude, and motivation. Become by grace, what Christ is by nature. And that, dearest, means a constant labor to keep my heart and soul willing to say “yes” to God in every moment of my life. I am called to be Faithful AND Wise.
Look at our Gospel Lesson this morning in Luke 12:42-48. The Lord gives a wonderful, but starkly disturbing, lesson in the difference between a faithful and wise steward of his Master and one who fails to be that kind of steward.
The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.”
Look at the characteristics of the faithful and wise steward as opposed to the foolish steward.
First, the faithful and wise steward follows through. A faithful and wise steward doesn’t need his Master standing over him every minute to make sure he is being a good worker. Someone who needs constant supervision reflects a selfish inner character that can’t be trusted to follow through on the tasks assigned to them. But a faithful and wise steward embraces his tasks even if the Master seems to be delayed in returning!
Second, the faithful and wise steward treats others as the Master treats them. But the foolish steward takes advantage of the situation and consumes both the Master’s property and the Masters other servants for himself. Being faithful and wise means caring for those around you and for the gifts you’ve been given from a heart of both gratitude and responsibility. Ignoring these traits reveals that you are more akin to the foolish servant, and not faithful and wise.
Finally, the faithful and wise steward knows there will be a reckoning and he lives every day with that truth in mind. Those who have been given such advantages as education, wealth, freedom, and faith will be asked to give an account for all their advantages. A faithful and wise steward never forgets this day that comes when his advantages will be examined!
Today, are you a faithful and wise steward of the gifts and advantages you’ve received in your life? Or are you blinded by temporary problems to the treasures you’ve received? Perhaps it’s time to put away the immediate blindness of short-sighted living and start embracing the wise stewardship of all that has been given to you. Why not become what you are called to be – faithful and wise.
P.S. We are grateful to you. It’s that simple. You’re sharing of this ministry with others has grown what started out as a way to develop homilies and deal every day with our holy scripture into a daily devotional that reached almost 15,000 people last week. This labor of love is such a joy and you’re partnership with us at Faith Encouraged is absolutely vital to this work’s effectiveness. Thank you. Don’t forget to “like” the Faith Encouraged LIVE page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at Fr. Barnabas Powell.