OCCUPY TILL I COME
by Dr. Henderson Ward
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God, some would say, made a bad choice when he made man and gave him supremacy. In occupying the role as head of God’s creation man has shown himself to be abominably incompetent, hugely untrustworthy and enormously deceitful. Even if we admit that God does not make bad choices, and I do so admit - even the traitor Judas, within the scheme of divine planning was not a bad choice - we nevertheless are aghast at this global wrecking machine called man.
It takes no great imagination to see where it will all end if humanity continues on its destructive path. Sometimes we get into the most horrendous difficulty and end up so far from the mark God has set that it is as if we are mindless creatures masquerading as intelligent beings. Why do humans kill each other on such a vast scale? Why is the respect for human life so little and its value so trifling? Why is every good and decent thing so injury prone and irascible to so many?
It is as if humans are the only planet’s creatures that relish their own destruction. In World War 1 it is commonly reported that they were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded, In World War 2 over 60 million people were killed. To understand what this means, if these World War 2 killings had occurred in the time of King David, then in all likelihood humans would have been extinct like the dinosaurs.
The root of the problem commenced when, in an act unfathomable to human intelligence, God permitted Satan to encroach on sacred ground and spread his odious message of dissent to a simplistic female mind. God had previously extolled his final, existential, creative act and labelled it “very good” as recorded in Genesis 1:31 and went on, in a gesture of magnanimity, to elevate man to an unchallengeable position of authority.
It is here that we need to elucidate the magnitude and significance of this delegated authority by quoting the exact words on the occasion of conferring such unique power: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Genesis 2:15). This was more than being a landscape gardener, it was much more than being a mundane custodian or even a highfaluting janitor. God was bestowing on Adam stewardship of the entire earth, an awesome and wonderful opportunity to exercise godly wisdom and universal, beneficent care compatible with his status as being created in the image of God.
In truth God was saying to Adam “Occupy till I come”, not in these exact, cogent words but in the divine intent and for a limited time.
A more explicit command followed the utter failure of the generations from Adam to the arrival of Jesus Christ to exercise proper stewardship. Jesus, as was customary to focus on the failings of man but with appropriate solutions, spoke to the multitude at the conversion of Zacchaeus and he expounded this subject when he told them a parable that is commonly known as the parable of the pounds as recorded in Luke 19:11-28.
Jesus in referring to a certain Nobleman was by common acceptance speaking of himself and he said, “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” (Luke 19:11-13).
Here distilled in a few significant words is the total essence of meaningful stewardship. No guidelines, no rules, no setting of parameters and no specific deadline. Everything was to be done and business conducted in the same manner as if the Nobleman was still in charge and supervising with the utmost probity and efficaciousness.
In this parable, and in the valuable principles we take by the blessed inferences, the stewards were to do exactly what the Nobleman would have done was he present and commanding and this meant that the stewards were to be fully conversant with his standards, aims and modus operandi.
Here lies the core of effective, Christian stewardship; knowing and applying the mind of God to each and every situation.
If Adam and Eve were good stewards, if they were mindful that they were standing in for God, then they would not have faltered at the crucial moment since it would not be a case of what pleases us but what pleases God.
The spirit of dissent that possessed Eve became, with Satan’s touch, an evil spirit of self-indulgence and wanting to go beyond God’s limitations. Adam, in justifying his dishonourable act of acquiescing with Eve, resorted to self-serving rhetoric, but to no avail, since God, being true to his nature, never accepts such justifications.
“Occupy till I come” says Jesus; and every believer is involved in this splendid, self-sacrificing occupation regardless of rank or church affiliation or particular ministry.
Since we are all involved in this grand, very important occupation then it is certain that the Evil One, the Father of lies, the one who roams about seeking whom he may devour will do his vicious utmost to interfere and disrupt this occupation just as he did with thoughtless Eve.
Satan does not mind anyone representing Christ, all he is interested in is infiltrating enough Satanic corruption into the person so as to render him or her spiritually and morally ineffective.
Believers can effectively “Occupy till I come” by remembering some simple principles that have worked well for the saints of old and be fully prepared for the wiles of the enemy.
By always seeking to do God’s will and not what may please us. This may mean that at times we do what is not in our best interest (very hard to do) but is what may be required at that moment to best serve the interest of God.
Be prepared for when a conglomerate of situations come together and confusion is at hand; then we should know how to approach God for clarification and prioritizing.
Understanding that God is never at a loss to give proper answers to inquiring souls and neither should you. A light should not struggle to shine neither should rain fight to fall for all of these things are natural; just as natural as the Holy Spirit effusively working in and through us.
Be mindful that when at a loss for things to do, then always do something spiritually vital. Charity is not just about giving materially but showing compassion, visiting the sick, writing letters especially of encouragement, praying fervently for a worthy cause, etc.
Comprehend that a lot of frustration will be avoided if we look not for thanks and appreciation, but strive bravely, and do the best we can every day, knowing that God sees everything, and will reward us; maybe not now but in the life to come, without fail.
In truth they are always those who see God in a different light and no matter how gracious God is to them they would never give to God his due. Such a one is the man mentioned in Luke 19 and the relevant verses are these: “And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow” (Luke 19:20-21)
This misguided soul could not be farther from the truth and is typical of some believers who are full of accusations and rancour, bitter and full of gall about a number of things, unthankful, uncooperative, unwilling to make a sacrifice, unhelpful and censorious and full of humbug and although gifted and very capable are unable and unwilling to be productive and make better use of their gifts.
But good stewardship is a principal requirement of all believers. This does not mean the practice of tithing and giving offerings and gifts from what we possess although these things are important; it means recognizing God as owning everything and we manage on his behalf understanding that he will hold us accountable for the care and resources of the earth including our acts of pollution, sustaining a living environment, caring for nature and taking of risks to make ourselves profitable in God’s sight.
God is never vulnerable but in this sense, because he is relying on us, he is doing once again what he did with Adam, i.e., putting a care and responsibility on human shoulders knowing that success can come only through the agencies he has so graciously provided in and through Jesus Christ. And it is Jesus, readily providing all that we need, and who would move heaven and earth to facilitate our triumphant occupation, and whose infallible words never fails, gives us this unassailable assurance, “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
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