Aloha Friday Message – February 3, 2012 – An Inconvenient Blessing?

1205AFC020512 – An Inconvenient Blessing? (Part 1 of 2)

Read it online here.

NAB 1 Corinthians 9:17 If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.

NLT 1 Corinthians 9:17 If I were doing this of my own free will, then I would deserve payment. But God has chosen me and given me this sacred trust, and I have no choice.

NJB 1 Corinthians 9:17 If I did it on my own initiative I would deserve a reward; but if I do it under compulsion I am simply accepting a task entrusted to me.

Aloha nui loa, Beloved. Today I am thinking about the Apostle Paul and what an extraordinary life he lived. This verse from Sunday’s Epistle caught my attention because of the word STEWARDSHIP. As you can see from the three different translations I presented, Paul’s ministry was something he was compelled to do; but this was not a mission founded through coercive force. It was begun in the power of Love – the Love of God in Christ Jesus for everyone, all the time, everywhere, then, now, and forever. Paul’s life had an urgency to it that arose from his understanding that God was always ready to embrace and cherish every living soul in all of history – not just his chosen people, Israel, but rather everyone including Israel.

Paul took the Great Commission to heart in a remarkable way. We know that he started out persecuting those who followed “The Way.” After his conversion on the road to Damascus, his zeal, originally directed against believers in Jesus, was redirected in the exact opposite direction and furthermore it was intensified because he understood the Power of Grace which had converted him. It was not force that changed his heart and mind. It was not persuasive argument that convinced him. It was simply the power of Grace, the overwhelming, unmerited, saving power of God’s love.

Paul touched on this many times in his letters to the churches. For example there is this passage: Colossians 1:24-25 I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am completing what remains of Christ’s sufferings for his body, the church. God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his message in all its fullness to you Gentiles. And again in Ephesians 3:2, Paul says, “As you already know, God has given me this special ministry of announcing his favor to you Gentiles.” He knew with every fiber and breath of his being that God had chosen him to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the express purpose of spreading the Gospel, the Good News of the Kingdom of God. God had appointed Paul to be the Steward of that Gospel.

Let me return then to the thing that attracted me to this passage – stewardship. The word is οἰκονομία oikonomi’a {oy-kon-om-ee’-ah} which means the management of a household or of household affairs – or specifically, the management, oversight, or administration of others’ property or activities. It is the same term used in Ephesians 1:10 for the plan that God directs and in which Paul has specific and essential responsibilities. Paul was taking care of Someone Else’s business and property. He did that because he understood the power of Grace. Grace truly is amazing. It is God’s Love that changed him and it was the Love of God he preached. He was given a gift, and he willingly shared it; willingly, he tells us over and over, but with a willingness that overpowered every moment of suffering in his life. We have studied previously,the integrity and power of that Love. Paul suffered, as he said in his letter to the Colossians, but suffered joyously in the sure knowledge that his gift would continue to be shared even after his suffering and his life ended. He was beaten with rods, nearly stoned to death, imprisoned, shipwrecked, bitten by a snake, endured hardship after hardship in his travels, worked diligently at his trade so he could carry out his mission without remuneration – so in short he lived through a lot of agonizing pain and suffering in his body and I would venture to say in his emotions as well; nonetheless, he told us, ” For this cause I also suffer these things. Yet I am not ashamed, for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed to him against that day. Always the steward, Paul knew God had entrusted to him to look after his household, and Paul fulfilled that trust to the end of his earthly life. He knew that his gifts – and ours – are given to us not as our own possessions but for use in God’s service.

Paul also recognized he had been given the gift of Apostleship even though he had not been among those who had been chosen to be among the original Twelve. Paul was singled out to be a leader, and this motivated him to profound humility and at the same time incredible passion. He realized the wealth inherent in God’s grace to him, and it spurred him to extravagant generosity in sharing that gift.

The profuse generosity and indomitable courage which characterized Paul was not something that arose out of vanity. It was the power of humility expressed in respectful obedience to his calling despite any opposition or trial. Had he used his charisms – his God-given gifts – for his own “stardom” he would be unknown to us today. He knew first-hand the intensity and power of Mercy and Grace. He gave over his life completely to the duty of Mercy to which he was called. That duty was to make known God’s integrity, justice, love, and mercy available only in and through Christ.

We turn to Paul’s letters daily for direction and inspiration. He demonstrated that the most effective instruments of evangelization are love and reverence for God as shown through love and reverence for the life of every person we meet and even for every person we can never meet. I believe all of us would agree that such love and reverence is very challenging in this sinful world. It is often inconvenient to be God’s delegate to humanity, and it is impossible if we boast about having been given that post in life. We have these gifts through God’s Boundless Mercy. It is that Mercy to which we will turn in next week’s Aloha Friday Message. Some of the responsibilities that come along with blessings require stewardship of those blessings and sometime some inconveniences; but the rewards for faithful stewards are Heavenly.


New request for BL: Ask God to help in beginning and then maintaining recovery from multiple chemical dependencies. For TO, please continue to help with your prayers so that an affordable and efficacious addiction recoveyr program can be found.

ECP: Thanksgiving for a good result on a recent diagnostic procedure. Continued prayers for relief from damaged toes, feet, and knees.

KB: Strength and courage for going ahead with potentially-life-saving surgery.

RH: Continued improvement through therapy.

TM: Successful treatment of disseminated cancer.

NR: Here’s a special little toddler who’s having a really rough time right now. He’s a
wonderful little boy sidelined with pneumonia and other challenges. Please
take a moment right now and ask for a quick recovery to full health so he can
continue to grow in the love showered on him by family and friends.

For families torn apart by sin, jealousy, anger, betrayal, drug abuse, child abuse, and all forms of misunderstandings: Pray for and work for peace and reconciliation. Pray against the tendency toward divorce, the acceptance of abortion, and all sins that betray and usurp the lives of the innocent.

Please pray for those whose loved-ones have left this world – for whatever reason – that each departed soul may know the Glory of Heaven and each surviving soul may know Peace regardless of situation of their loved-one’s death.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

☼ 🙂

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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