The Stewardship of Grace
By Jim Nash
On September 19, 1952, my Hall-of-Fame baseball career ended. The diagnosis: acute poliomyelitis, the worst case the doctor had seen (according to my mother I was completely limp). The prognosis: I’d never walk again.
However, I had (and have) a mother. She noticed that kids fared worse whose mothers couldn’t give them up completely to treatment. I also had the Sister Kenny Institute, relocated to Minnesota, whose bush treatments revolutionized the recovery process. And I had the nameless and faceless, yet competent and caring, staff of Gillette Children’s Hospital, where I was quarantined seven weeks. The result: I walked. And more than that, I ran, and was able to carry my load and then some.
However, there’s more. My ability to walk hasn’t been seen as an entitlement, but rather as a gracious gift, a stewardship to be exercised daily with gratefulness. It rests in large measure on the kindness of others. And precisely because of that immeasurable kindness I’m called to prudence and diligence to, as best as possible, retain what I’ve been given.
And there’s even more. A few years ago, while sitting at a banquet, the good knee locked up at a 45-degree angle. I couldn’t move it (turns out the poly insert was shattered). Without that knee functioning, I don’t walk. A doctor-friend present gave some unhelpful advice. So, what to do? I simply said, “What now, Lord?” Immediately the knee unlocked. I quickly got up, said my good-byes, and went home. It seems God is co-owner of this sacred trust I have, an ever-present Guardian and Advocate of my stewardship.
Paul writes, “But God,… rich in mercy, because of His great love for us, … made us alive together with Christ,…raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:4-10 Revised Standard Version).
Notice something here? We walk precisely because of the riches of His grace toward us in Christ Jesus.
Two other elements of this word jump out as well. First, the God-prepared good works are in part (perhaps large part) revealed through meticulous study of the Book of God’s Word, and the book of God’s works (creation). One of the attributes of faith Jesus calls us to (along with moral excellence and strength) is accuracy (“You’ve heard that it was said… but I say…”). This requires intellectual diligence. The Covenant is a covenant of literacy. The “exceedingly great and precious promises” mentioned by Peter (2 Peter 1:4), by which we “may be partakers of the divine nature,” are to be learned and continually rehearsed. Stewardship demands of us a lifetime and lifestyle of study.
And second, this grace has made us alive together with Christ. It is a grace of communion of the saints, of union with God and unity in Him, all mediated through the redemptive presence of the Holy Spirit, the guarantee of our inheritance. The abundant repetition of “I” in Romans 7 yields to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. His job, as Paraclete, is to lead us, in all we do, into all the Truth, who is Christ Jesus Himself, and to illumine and guard our path toward Him Who alone is the perfect summation of all that is wise and just and beautiful.
May the Lord help us to continue walking in such a manner, worthy of the stewardship with which we’ve been called.