Every one Shall Give Account of Himself to God
Cliff Jones, Cardiff, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God, and the words in Romans 14. 12 are clear and unequivocal, "every one of us shall give account of himself to God". The emphasis is on the word himself. Each one of us shall give an account of his own thoughts, motives, attitudes and deeds to a holy God. Knowing this, how unwise is the brother who criticises another for his lack of faith or lack of strength.
We should be characterized by both grace and truth, receiving the brother who is weak in the faith "but not to doubtful disputations", 14. 1. We should judge ourselves and not judge others, v.13. It has often been said that we should "keep short accounts with God", judging ourselves often, and confessing our sins to Him that we may receive forgiveness, 1 John 1. 9, through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, Matt. 26. 28.
In the light of Romans 14. 12, how can the weaker believer condemn his stronger brother, or how can the stronger believer despise his weaker brother? He that is quick and honest in judging himself and confessing his sins to God will not be quick to judge and condemn his brother.
We shall, each one of us, give an account of ourselves to God. There will be no feeble attempt at self-justification, which is so easy to attempt in this present life. There will be no criticism of, no comparison with, other believers.
We shall give an account to God. The word translated "account" (logos) can be translated as "word" or "saying", and means a spoken account. In secular terms an account is a record of transactions of a particular type, or with a particular person. Secular accounting often suffers from lack of scientific criteria, and from arbitrariness and subjectivity, but in contrast to this, the account we render to God, whose knowledge is infinite, will be exact and correct in every detail.
Stewardship. In secular terms, stewardship accounting is one of the sources from which present day accounting practices have developed. Wealthy men would employ stewards to manage their property, and periodically the stewards would render an account of their stewardship.
We shall give an account to God of our stewardship. The word "steward" often appears in the New Testament as a translation of the Greek word oikonomos, which means a manager of another's household or estate. The steward administered something he did not own. The steward was often a slave, and his responsibilities could include caring for his master's property and resources, and controlling other slaves. The master might make the steward responsible for the care of his heir for a defined period of time. Gal. 4. 2. Thus we read in Genesis 15. 2 of Eliezer who was over the house of Abraham; in 43. 19 and 44. 1, 4 we read of Joseph's steward, and in Luke 12. 42 we learn of "that faithful and wise steward". The steward was responsible and accountable to his master, 16. 1.2.
Believers are God's stewards. We are accountable to Him for the stewardship of the gifts bestowed upon us and the resources made available to us; "it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful", 1 Cor. 4.2. Only God can judge our faithfulness : it is to Him and to no other that we are responsible, Rom. 14. 4.
The responsibilities of an overseer in a local assembly as steward are particularly onerous. He "must be blameless, as the steward of God", Titus 1.7. He must hold fast "the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gain-sayers", v. 9. Overseers are accountable for their care of the "house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth", 1 Tim. 3. 15. Overseers must watch for believers' souls "as they that must give account", Heb. 13. 17.
God has bestowed gifts upon us, "As every man hath received the gift even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God", 1 Pet. 4. 10. Many believers are uncertain as to what their particular gift might be, and it is only through prayer, waiting on God, meditating on His written Word, and experience that the gift will be made known, and only through the power of the Holy Spirit will each believer be enabled to cultivate and develop the gift. We are responsible as stewards for our spiritual gifts, for the measure of health and strength of mind and body which we enjoy, for the opportunities of service which we are given, for the possibilities of rendering hospitality to others which are open to us, for the use of the time which is given to us and, possibly most obvious of all, for the financial resources which are ours.
By the grace of God, and with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, may each one of us be good stewards, remembering always that "every one of us shall give account of himself to God".