Spiritual Success or Distress?
Quarter 4, Lesson 12

Lesson Twelve

The "You" Principle
of Stewardship

Text: James 4:1-4

A modern parable: the man who was the CEO of the world's most successful organization personally hired someone to work in the corporate leadership of the organization. The person hired by the CEO was energetic, experienced, capable, highly motivated, and quite intelligent. This person served the company well for five years and was rewarded well.

After five years of devoted service to the company, he made an appointment with the CEO. In the meeting, this person said, "You and I need to get some things straight. We need an understanding." These were the understandings: (1) "From now on my desires come first and the organization's best interests come second." (2) "I appreciate what you provide me, but from now on I plan to use everything available to me as I see best." (3) "I can no longer be concerned about what is in the organization's best interests or what conflicts with company policy. I will do what I feel is right for me. Period." (4) "Do not consider firing me. You need me too much. You depend on me, and I know it!"

Such a meeting is unthinkable! It would not and could not happen! It would be certain suicide!

God created our world. He made man and woman custodians of His creation. They were deceived, and their deception perverted everything including themselves. Their mistake produced disaster, a disaster that guaranteed their own destruction. God worked for thousands of years to send them a Savior. At great personal cost to Himself, He provided people a way to escape disaster.

At first people gratefully received God's solution. But, in time, they forgot how desperately they needed rescuing. In more time, they became ungrateful and demanding.

They had a meeting with God to inform God that things had to change. God needed to understand the reality of "how things were." Mankind informed God (1) "From now on what we perceive to be in our best interests will come first. Our perceptions will be based on our desires, not on anything You declare" (2) "We do not want to appear ungrateful. We do appreciate Your blessings. However, we will use anything You make available to us as we see best." (3) "No longer will we be concerned about your kingdom's best interests. No longer can we give priority to Your purposes. No longer can we consider what might be in conflict with Your purposes. We will do what we feel is best for us. Period!" (4) "Do not even think about sending us consequences to experience. Without our kindness, Your purposes face hard times. And we know it!"

Not only is that plausible, it has happened. Not only do we reject the concept of stewardship, but we expect God to function as our steward. God exists to serve our purposes. We do not exist to serve God's purposes. Do you doubt that? Any time a conflict arises between our personal desires, ambitions, or purposes and God's desires, ambitions, and purposes, who receives first consideration? In whose favor are conflicts resolved? God is supposed to answer our prayers. What are we supposed to do for God? [If we eliminated requests from our prayers, would there be any content in our prayers? Would a prayer life remain?]

Read James 4:1-4.

  1. What two questions does James ask in verse 1?



  2. Explain what is meant by "you lust and do not have" (verse 2).

  3. Because they desperately wanted what they did not have, what four things did they do (verse 2)?





  4. Did envy enable them to have what they so desperately wanted (verse 2)?

  5. How did they react to the failure of envy to produce results (verse 2)?

  6. Why did they not have what they desperately desired (verse 2)?

  7. They asked for what they desperately desired, and did not receive it. They did not receive it for two reasons. What were the two reasons (verse 3)?



  8. Explain why they were called "adulteresses" (verse 4).

  9. What should they know [understand] (verse 4)?

  10. What Christian makes himself or herself God's enemy (verse 4)?

Motives matter. Is our desire to possess driven by what we want for ourselves, what we want for our golden years, what we want for the inheritance we leave our families, or for what we want to use for God? God knows our hearts. God knows our motives even if we deceive ourselves. As a Christian, do you know the motives of your heart? Do you trust and use:

The "Jerusalem Principle"
Use Christian stewardship to address major
challenges and problems dividing God's people.

The "Macedonian Principle"
Christian stewardship is based on a need. Meeting
that need provides each Christian with an essential
avenue for expressing appreciation and showing gratitude.

The "Abraham Principle"
We are blessed to be a blessing.

The "Joseph Principle"
Stewardship is the result of relationship with God,
not the result of favorable circumstances or situations.

Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 4, Lesson 12

Copyright © 2000
David Chadwell & West-Ark Church of Christ

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