Years ago I baptized a retired fighter pilot. His family faithfully attended and participated in church activities. But he thought no one would know that he secretly continued to smoke tobacco. A short time after he was baptized, his daughter started first grade. As he walked her to the school bus on the first day of school, she looked up at him and said, “Daddy, I‘m sure glad you don’t smoke anymore.”
“Pastor,” he later told me, with a serious look on his face,
“I was holding a pack of cigarettes in my pocket to smoke
one on the way home, but the voice of God spoke to me
through my little girl.” He relaxed and chuckled like he always
did. “I threw them away and told God out loud, ‘I will
never smoke again.’” Years later that little girl, all grown up,
introduced herself to me after church. I asked if she remembered
what she said to her father that day. She smiled and
said, “Yes, Pastor, and my dad never did smoke again.”
My friend learned on his daughter’s first day of school
that Christ was the Keeper of his heart and would work in an
unexpected way to help him in his journey of faith as a new
Seventh-day Adventist. In the coming months he started
sharing his story at stop smoking clinics to encourage others
to stop smoking. As time went by, I saw his character
of generosity. One day he came to me and said, “Pastor, I
want to buy an organ for the church.” When the congregation
bought the adjacent vacant lot to build a larger church,
he enthusiastically gave, taking the lead, so the project could
become a reality.
A steward’s walk of faith is never disconnected from
Christ, the Keeper of our hearts. During the journey we
develop and nurture our character. We manage what has been assigned and entrusted to us, and our stewardship is
a reflection of God’s character. This is not done by human
willpower or accomplished in a vacuum. It involves understanding
the relationship between the Christ of the sanctuary
and the steward. Simply say, “The Lord is your keeper; the
Lord is your shade at your right hand” (Ps. 121:5, NKJV).
Christ keeps us “as the apple of” His eye, hides us “under
the shadow” of His wings (Ps. 17:8), and “will keep him in
perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he
trusts in You” (Is. 26:3, NKJV).
This all takes place as we live out the principles of Scripture,
are obedient to God’s directives, and manage the tangible
and intangible possessions in our daily lives. In 1914
Ellen White said to Clarence Crisler, “I have had a great deal
to contend with, but I thank the Lord with heart and soul and
voice. I will praise Him, He is my keeper and my conqueror”
(Arthur L. White, The Later Elmshaven Years 1905–1915,
vol. 6, p. 409).
Stewardship is about regularly experiencing practical
sanctification—recognizing how all the practical aspects of
our daily lives are affected by our salvation in Christ. Being
God’s steward means accepting no failure in the Christian
life. We understand what we are to do and succeed just as
Christ did when He came to earth to save us.
Sometimes fear may grip our hearts when we look ahead
to a walk of faith. How can we ever be successful stewards?
Relief comes from the Keeper of our hearts. We can rest in
Him as He guides our steward’s walk of faith.
John Mathews is the director of the Stewardship department for the
North American Division.