God's Under Rowers
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. ~1 Corinthians 4:1
Paul uses three Greek words to describe a servant. The first word he uses is diakonos, which means “one who obeys the commands of a master or a king.” It implies the idea of a waiter. The second word is doulos, which means “a bondslave.” This is a slave who, upon release from his master, pledges his desire to serve him voluntarily. The bondslave was distinguished by having his earlobe bored through with an aul to testify that he served his master out of voluntary love. The third word is our study this morning. It is hyperetes, which is an under rower of a ship. It is the idea of one who works with his hands and aids another in his work. This morning, let us see how the idea of an under rower speaks to us about a true, dependable servant.
He must have faith.
First, he must be faithful. “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” “Faithful” implies being truthful, dependable, prudent, and careful. Being faithful means you do what you’re supposed to do and even exceed expectations of the one you are faithful to. It means you do not put any questions into the mind of the one you serve as to your loyalty and commitment to what you do. Second, he must be faith-filled. God’s work is a work of faith. Faith requires that we pray. Faith requires that we trust God. Faith requires getting God’s leading on a matter and not our leading.
He will be a fool.
“We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.” An under rower was equivalent to the status of a slave. His role was considered humbling and very lowly. Serving God is viewed as lowly and for losers. You’re thought of as a fool if you give a lot of your time to attending church, being a cheerful giver, serving overtime, witnessing to people, and living your life according to the Bible. Being a fool means you will be disrespected, despised, evil spoken of, and dragged through the mud.
He must have fortitude.
Fortitude means having grit, toughness, and perseverance. Paul had to have fortitude against the judgmental criticism of the Corinthians. He also had to have fortitude against the disrespectful treatment and evil things said about him. An under rower had a tough job. He would be yelled at constantly by the galley master. He would be told if he was too fast, too slow, too weak, or too incompetent, and he would be constantly reminded if he wasn’t pulling his weight or pushing his oar in the right direction. An under rower could not do anything to please other people. Someone has said, “Serving God is great: serving His people is the part that is hard.” A true minister must have fortitude during those seasons when criticism is hard.
He will be among the few.
If you want to be a true servant of God, you will be in a minority. When I read 1 Corinthians 4 and what Paul had to deal with, I think that most men I know would quit the ministry if they went through the same. Later in his ministry, Paul said, “All men forsook me.” You will be one of a few if you hold to Biblical doctrine and don’t change. You’ll be one of a few if you can serve under a pastor and not be critical or go sideways on him. You’ll be one of a few if you can remain faithful and with a good spirit with the same ministry. An under rower puts effort into what he does, pulls his weight, and is effective in what he is supposed to do without exception.
Have a faithful God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: 1 Chronicles 18-21