1 Peter 4:7-9 ESV
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
Time is Short
None of us knows when we are going to breathe our last breath. We don’t know when the things prophesied in Scripture will all be fulfilled. But we can sense when things are getting much closer to the end by the signs of the times in which we live. And, I believe we are living in such a time.
Since we have no control over the times in which we live or how long our lives will last, we must live each day as though it could be our last. We should be doing that anyway, but there are people who are holding off committing their lives to Jesus Christ, for they are counting on them having plenty of time to make things right with God before they die.
But in view of the shortness of time, and out of love and respect for our Lord, and out of appreciation for his love and grace to us, we should be living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. And daily we should be saying “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts.
Too many people who call themselves Christians take God and his grace for granted, and they don’t take him and his word seriously. They think that God’s grace is free license to continue in sin without guilt, and they sense no duty or obligation to turn from their sins and to walk in obedience to him.
So, we need to be those who take God and his word seriously. We need to be those who are living godly lives, holy and pleasing to God. For, if we are not, that will hinder our prayers and our walks of faith. In fact, Scripture teaches that if we live to please the flesh, we don’t know God, and we don’t have eternal life with Christ (Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Gal 5:16-21).
This love is (agape) love, which is love which centers in moral preference, preferring what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, godly, moral, honest, faithful, pure, self-sacrificing, and humble (not proud).
So, when we love one another with this kind of love, not only are we not going to willfully sin against one another, which is to not do intentional harm, but we are also not going to coddle one another in sin, either. We won’t pacify sin or ignore obvious sinful habits, but we will reach out to help one another out of slavery to sin to walking in holiness and godliness.
So, this kind of love is not going to make excuses for anyone’s sin or pretend habitual sin doesn’t exist. But it will forgive sin. But even forgiveness does not mean we turn a blind eye to habitual sin. Forgiveness means we don’t demand payment. We don’t try to get even.
But true agape love is going to help a brother or a sister out of enslavement to sin, and show them the way to freedom, and help them to grow in their walks of faith in Jesus Christ to spiritual maturity in Christ.
And, regarding hospitality, well, with the way the world is now, that is a lot harder to do. But, as much as we are able to do, we should be those who invite people into our homes, and who minister God’s love and grace to our neighbors and to our fellow believers in Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
The Words We Speak
I believe this is speaking of spiritual gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit. But it could include all that God has given to us spiritually and materially. We are to use whatever the Lord has given to us to serve one another.
We read in Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
This grace is the grace of God, which is his favor to us, in order to share with us some spiritual benefit, which is our salvation from our bondage to sin and empowerment of the Spirit of God to live godly and holy lives. So, this has to do with sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.
And, salt is a seasoning we use to put on food, and the gospel is our spiritual food. But salt is also a preservative, so this would be like preserving the gospel of our salvation, guarding it, and protecting it from evil workers who would want to take it apart and to dismantle it.
And, an oracle of God is the Word of God, so we should be those for whom the word of God is regularly on our lips. And, we should be those who are preserving its truths, and who are sharing those truths in their fulness so that people’s lives can be saved from hell, and so that they can know deliverance from sin and have the hope of eternal life with God.
But this isn’t just about sharing the gospel. This has to do with our speech representing Jesus Christ. We shouldn’t be those who speak evil, or who talk crudely, or who share off-color humor or sexually suggestive conversations. Our speech should be morally pure and centered in Christ so that we say nothing to shame the gospel or to give our faith a bad reputation.
The Way We Serve
When we serve others, we should do so as the Lord would do, not in ways that are of the flesh of man, especially not of our sin nature. Again, whatever we do, it should be done to the glory and praise of God and not for our own glory and praise, or for selfish gain, or for fulfilling evil schemes.
But not only should our service be for the glory of God, and in accord with the way Jesus served others, including us, but the Bible talks much about God choosing how we are to serve him, according to his specific calling on our lives.
For, not only has the Spirit given us spiritual gifts to be used in service to one another, but God has also given us spiritual assignments (ministries, body parts) within the body of Christ that are of his choosing, not ours.
For, when we are serving others, we are doing so as good stewards of God’s varied grace, which I believe are the spiritual gifts he gives each of us for the ministering to the body of Christ, as he does also with the ministries he chooses for us to do which are to do as he designs and purposes.
So, this isn’t about us just deciding to do “good deeds” to others, but this is about us submitting to our Lord in doing what he has called us to do, where he has called us to go, and the way in which he has called us to minister to others. And, for each of us it will be uniquely the part (the role) God has specifically for us (Rom 12; 1 Co 12; Eph 4).
On Zion’s Glorious Summit
By John Kent
On Zion’s glorious summit stood
A numerous host redeemed by blood!
They hymned their king in strains divine;
I heard the song and strove to join,
I heard the song and strove to join.
Here all who suffered sword or flame
For truth, or Jesus’ lovely name,
Shout victory now and hail the Lamb,
And bow before the great I AM,
And bow before the great I AM.
While everlasting ages roll,
Eternal love shall feast their soul,
And scenes of bliss, forever new,
Rise in succession to their view,
Rise in succession to their view.
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of hosts, on high adored!
Who like me Thy praise should sing,
O Almighty King!
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of hosts, on high adored!
Holy, holy, holy.
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