Ever take a cruise? Rarely would you run into the captain during operations of the ship, as he/she would be busy directing the navigation of the vessel. I remember taking a tour of an aircraft carrier many years ago. I found it most interesting when we were told the captain can almost be a prisoner on the bridge during operations. They have their own stateroom below deck, but while the ship is underway the captain stays on the bridge in a very cramped room where they sleep, eat, and accomplish other duties – never leaving the bridge.
On a cruise ship, the captain has the same duties. So the people you run into most often are the stewards. These are the greeters, the hospitality individuals, those who work in the galley, and those who clean the passengers’ rooms and fold the towels in to multiple shapes for display on the bed. The stewards may have one of the most important jobs on a ship. If the ship is having issues and docked, the captain’s duties may diminish, but the stewards will be running around the ship like ants, tending to the needs of the patrons and keeping the dissatisfaction level at a minimum. Therefore, the stewards of the ship have some of the greatest responsibilities on the floating city, with the goal of caring for reason they exist – the passengers.
Add the suffix “ship” to many words and you get a process or responsibility to work toward a goal. Scholarship means a person receives funds to study or be a “scholar” and work toward graduation. Apprenticeship describes a position where one works with an extremely knowledgeable person to gain expertise. What about when you add the suffix “ship” to the word “steward”?
First, to do so would indicate a process. It’s not a one-time event of being a steward and you’re done. Just like those who are lifetime scholars, stewardship is a life-long responsibility. Secondly, just like the steward on a ship, stewardship indicates a responsibility, a duty if you will, to care for something very valuable.
In Old Testament times, the responsibility of caring for the tabernacle fell to the tribe who had been set apart for service – the Levities. Their entire lives were focused on serving God, performing sacrifices, praying, and conducting services. As such, they were to receive no land when the Israelites crossed into the promise land. So what of the other tribes?
The other eleven tribes received land from which would come their livelihood with livestock and foodstuffs grown. Because of this blessing from God, the tribes were instructed to bring a portion of livestock and grains into the temple, or as we find in scripture, the “storehouse”. The Levites cared for many people in that society as well as run the dealings of the temple. With the portions brought into the temple by the eleven tribes, the temple was maintained, people in need were cared for, and offerings were made to God for the bounty He had bestowed on the nation.
The only place God challenges us to test Him is in Malachi. He promises if we will only follow His commandment to bring a tithe into the “storehouse”, His church, He will pour out blessings so great we will not be able to hold them.
Stewardship is a responsibility. Stewardship is an honor. Stewardship is also a promise. By supporting the church with time, talents, prayers, gifts, and services, we are following the call from God to care for HIS church and all that come in need. During this stewardship season, let’s all keep in mind we are on a journey of the highest calling, as we cruise through this life.
Straighten our stewardship uniforms and remember what we have in Christ’s church because of Him – everlasting life to those who choose! Anchor’s away!!!!