Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:10-11 (HCSB)
Note from Kip…
There are times in everyones life when we simply don’t get it.
We look around and see nothing but that which haunts us. Those unaccomplished objectives that we never quite finish or perhaps even start. It really doesn’t take very long at all when thinking along those lines that our worth in our own eyes begins to erode.
It’s not practical to gauge our worth based on external baselines. What do I mean by external baselines?
Baselines are arbitrary fixed points by which we calculate and estimate progression or decline in performance. A baseline has a reference value which is established by ones choice. So when we facilitate an external baseline, we are establishing those points based on something outside the point of reference.
For example: Let’s say we have a car we think is pretty wonderful. So someone asks why we think it is so great. We rattle off a list of reasons that are of value to us but this person see these as being subjective and wants evidence to substantiate your claims.
We then might use an external baseline to establish a comparison between our car and some other vehicle. We would attempt to select a comparison vehicle (Baseline) of known properties, to both us, and this other person.
Now if that external reference is a Lamborghini we could very quickly begin to think that our car isn’t all that. Likewise, if we compared it to a stock Chevy Vega that had 100,000 miles on it, we’d be sitting pretty! Neither is a reasonable baseline.
That Lamborghini costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, was crafted to perform to exacting standards that push the envelope of technology and craftsmanship. Speed, handling, and style have been key requirements set forth by the designers and engineers that made that machine.
Our car? The culmination of our efforts n our garage. Not bad for a shade tree mechanic but lets face it, our car is no Lamborghini.
And if we used the Vega as our baseline, sure we’d come out on top without a doubt. But then, like the Lamborghini, the circumstances under which the Vega was produced had an entirely different set of requirements. The years and miles put on the Vega has also diminished its ability to perform to the design standard that it was crafted from.
Therefore, when we compare it to our car, we have much better numbers and their is a significant difference between the two, but it truly isn’t a fair comparison at all.
So when I say using external baselines to judge ourselves is not practical, it simply means this. When we compare ourselves to others (external references) we are not comparing like parameters.
There is danger in expecting the same performance using our past performance as a baseline as well. Remember the Vega? The years and miles had taken a toll on the vehicle and diminished its original performance levels.
If we attempt to use our past experience and achievements as a baseline, it reflects a level we once performed and how we differ from that point today. It doesn’t take into account the circumstances that exist now, it doesn’t calculate in aging, health, or the environment in which we exist in today.
So What is Practical?
Throwing out the baseline is what is practical.
There are far too many significant parameters that must be considered when using a baseline. The comparisons are valid if all we are going to do is say ‘this’ differs from ‘that’ by some value. It doesn’t tell us why. And while it may be an incentive to press onward, it also can be used by the enemy to paint us as defeated and mired down in a loosing battle.
Throwing out the baseline is best. Instead of comparing ourselves to someone else or even our distant past, lets use a ‘standard’.
A standard doesn’t change. Instead of being arbitrary it is a fixed point that we work towards in our efforts. It is a frame of reference by which we can focus our energies to accomplish more today than we did yesterday in moving toward that objective.
There is no better standard than Jesus Christ Lord and Savior!
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)
But I can hear you saying to yourself, “Wait a minute, that’s not a fair comparison either! Jesus blows away the Lamborghini.”
And it is true, Jesus out performs that Lamborghini and there is no way possible for this worn out Vega to compete on any level to Him.
But we aren’t comparing His righteousness to ours. We aren’t contrasting our ability to love to His. We aren’t even going to judge our own compassion to Him.
With Him as our standard, we establish Him as our end point. A fixed point from which we can plot a course from where we are now, who we are now, what we are not, to where we are going. And now the measure isn’t how much better He is than us, because that goes without saying, but what can we do today that brings us closer to our standard. What can we leverage to demonstrate that He is our ultimate goal?
How does this reflect on our topic of ‘Practical Stewardship’?
1 Peter 4:10 says that… oh wait! That was the opening verse we quoted for today wasn’t it? Hmmm okay. Well it says, “Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.”
Gift? Just one?
The word ‘gift’ here isn’t talking about a specific talent or ability. When we look it up we’ll find something like this:
- a favor with which one receives without any merit of his own
- the gift of divine grace
- the gift of faith, knowledge, holiness, virtue
- the economy of divine grace, by which the pardon of sin and eternal salvation is appointed to sinners in consideration of the merits of Christ laid hold of by faith
- grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit
So you see it is much more encompassing. It does include those ‘extraordinary powers’ and even some less than extraordinary as well. It is those things which are granted to us by grace. Granted by the grace of Jesus Christ.
So what Paul is saying here is this, ‘Use that which God has given you to glorify God through glorifying Jesus.’
Instead of a baseline, when we use Jesus as our standard, our practical stewardship is going to be assessed by how we utilize that which as been given to us by the grace of Jesus. It is that simple. It’s not comparing yesterday to today, it’s not comparing ourselves to those around us either good or bad, it is not to contrast us to who our Lord and Master is because till we are in His presence we will never be like him.
Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.
1 John 3:2-3 (NLT)
Until then HE is our ‘standard’. Not our baseline. So utilize those things which He blesses us with and remember not to seek to compare yourselves to anything or anyone. Focus on our standard, Jesus Christ for our life and the pathway to His feet.
Simply doing this we can and will achieve not just practical but perfect stewardship!