In the military, after the agreements and oaths, there were responsibilities. They offered training, but I had to train. They gave me equipment, but I had to maintain it. They prepared food, but I had to eat. They provided education, but I had to continue learning.
Bottom line is - I had responsibilities in the relationship.
In 1 Peter 4, we understand our reasonable expectation for being a Christian is difficulty. It is not easy!
You may have been under the wrong impression that you would simply receive your ticket to eternal life and patiently wait for His return. Peter suggests that living for the will of God is no walk in the park. In fact, when you deny your human passions, you will personally enter into warfare. Not only do you enter into internal warfare, but you are involved in spiritual warfare that you cannot see and physical warfare against the practices of this world.
1 Peter 4:7-11
Peter reminds the modern day Christian, the end of all things is at hand. Having written this letter a little over 1,950 years ago, is it any LESS true? Not at all! We are 1,950 years closer to the end!
In light of this, Peter provides guidance for our responsibilities.
1. Be self controlled and sober minded.
We know from Galatians 5:23, self control is included in the fruit of the Spirit. It is a reference to your state of mind. Be heavenly minded, and behave accordingly.
Do not be lazy, but mindful of the mission and the short time with which to live for that goal.
Be sober minded. When you hear this phrase, think control or influence. It is usually compared to one who is influenced by alcohol as opposed to the Spirit. It means to be level headed with Spirit mindedness.
Our responsibility is not allowing other forces to influence our thinking (including ourselves).
Some are compelled to figure out the date of Christ’s return against the clear teaching of God’s word.
That is an example of NOT being sober-minded – it is foolishness. The fact is, the end is nearing, so use your energy in obedience to the mission, not guessing the date of the end! Being self controlled and sober minded…
2. Keep loving.
This is not referring to a spiritual gift of loving. Every Christian is to love each other continuously, sincerely and eagerly with your possession of God’s love.
Don't misunderstand this verse! Peter said to keep loving sincerely since love covers a multitude of sins. He is not saying love COVERS UP sin or love turns a blind eye to sin.
He is saying God's love (expressed properly through His people) forgives, extends grace, understands weakness, and loves through every circumstance.
3. Show hospitality
Again, this is not the gift of hospitality, but an expression of sincere, godly love toward each other. More importantly, we do so without grumbling and complaining.
“I will do it because God said I was supposed to” is far different than desiring to fellowship and care for each other.
4. Serve one another.
Now Peter is speaking of the way the Holy Spirit manifests Himself through you for His Church. The phrase, “As each has received a gift” is a statement of fact. So, as a Christian, you do not have to wonder if you received a spiritual gift!
Acknowledging the Greek tense, Peter said, because you have received a gift in the past, use it to serve each other now – without end.
Last week, we spoke of stewardship regarding God's resources in our possession. In the same way, we are to use our spiritual gift responsibly.
As a reminder, Stewardship is managing God's treasures in God's way for God's purpose and for God's glory.
How do you serve? Is it by your experience, your wisdom or your power? If so, you will be exhausted and ineffective in ministry. We serve by God's strength and with the ability God provides.
He is responsible by providing everything!
His gift (our area of service), His ability (our strength), and His church (our outlet of service). We must be responsible in applying what God has entrusted to us.
Why must we serve one another? Does God not realize how busy our lives are? What constitutes the busyness of your life? Your work? Your family? Your hobbies? Your leisure? Your responsibilities? Your entertainment?
When you surrendered your life to His lordship, was it to add Him to your busy schedule or give your busy life to His authority? We must let Him re-prioritize our lives.
Scripture says we must ALL be good stewards with the gift and ability that He supplied, so that in everything, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ! We cannot neglect the very responsibility God has given us within His church. It isn't about what you want to do. It is about your responsibility as a Christian – you serve Christ in His church, which glorifies God.
It isn't about what you think you can do. It is what God wants to do through you in His church, which glorifies God.
Ephesians 4:15-16 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Did you hear the reference to you and me? When each part is working properly... The expectation is that we serve each other cooperatively. If we are not EACH doing so, we are inhibitors to the mission and ministry of His church.
Is it really that big of a deal? Yes. God did not bring you here to be a consumer, He calls you to be a responsible participant in His church with the spiritual gift and power He has already supplied.
Psalm 100:2 Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!