‘and they will bear you up’

It’s time to wrap up this series on the responsibility of stewardship — specifically creation stewardship. Just to review the ground we’ve covered as we’ve dwelt on the invitation God extends in Jesus: namely, to enter into our full humanity and privilege as children of the Father:

  1. ‘if you are the Son of God…’ — I justified my use of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness as an anchor,
  2. ‘not by bread alone’ — I highlighted the challenge of trusting God at the heart of stewardship,
  3. ‘do not put the Lord to the test’ — I sketching the shape of stewardship: thankfully receiving, frugally enjoying and generously sharing God’s good gifts, and
  4. ‘serve him only’ — I considered the goal of stewardship: drawing out the potential of creation to glorify God (and not ourselves).

I have just one question to ask in conclusion: Have you noticed the odd the way the temptation scene ends — with angels attending Jesus?

Now, I know there’s really not much made of this in the texts. It’s merely registered before the scene shifts and the narrative whisks us forward. But isn’t this the very thing the devil has already suggested Jesus lay claim to as the Son, God’s Messiah? Isn’t angelic ministration something he was urged to cling to as an entitlement? And wasn’t it something Jesus rejected — along with that whole way of trying to be the Son of God?

Well … yes. But at this point in the story Jesus isn’t selfishly claiming anything. There’s no sense of him standing on his rights or putting God to the test. He’s not making demands. Rather, God is graciously bestowing the unlooked-for gift of satisfaction upon his obedient Son. And this is nothing short of the Messiah’s vindication.

Because Jesus is God’s Son, you see. His refusal of the devil’s earlier suggestion to throw himself down expecting that angels will bear him up was no denial of his Sonship or Messianic title. It was a refusal of the devil’s timing — and his arrogant attempt to make God operate by our timetable.

For us who share by grace in the status Jesus naturally and eternally enjoyed, I think this means:

We are most satisfied in serving God when he is most glorified through what we do (to up-end a famous saying).

So, when it comes to our care for God’s world, we can probably expect it to be uncomfortable and inconvenient at times. Obedience often is in the world that sin has invaded and wrapped its destructive tendrils around. But we can also expect that obedient stewardship — in which we live out our trust in God, seeking his glory by thankfully receiving, frugally enjoying and generously sharing the resources his makes available — will prove deeply satisfying, in all sorts of surprising, God-given ways.

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