I Peter 4:7-11
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
This passage of Scripture here is the classic one from the Apostle Peter that directs us to how we should approach our corporate Christian life.
The first thing we notice from this passage is that time is short. Now, the reason that the time is short is not important for us today, just that it is. Because if time is short, then priorities are even more important!! There is no time to waste!! So, if it’s really important when priorities are essential, it is of greatest importance.
The exhortations in this passage should be straightforward to us. They apply clearly to how we should function together in helping each other follow Jesus Christ!
So, what are the priorities for helping each other to follow Jesus Christ?
- Pray for One Another
This should make some of you really happy! Praying for each other is very important. But, there are qualifications for “how” we should pray for each other and these are interesting.
- Be sober and alert
Sober: earnest and thoughtful. Serious.
Alert: watchful and prompt to meet danger or emergency
Why these two descriptions of our attitude in prayer?
Have a level of understanding about
- The difficulties of life. (God saved me through the tornado, not from the tornado.)
- The necessity to dig in (Pray through)
Understand God’s patience, and our need for patient endurance as well. The most common Biblical exhortation relative to prayer is to stay at it.
- Believe God is at work!!!
There seems to be a drastic lack of this perspective!
- Know the greatest purposes!
- Share needs and pray
Be faithful to protect others. We are not gossipers!
Pray, tell others you are praying and pray.
- We are a community This connects us to each other.
In I Corinthians 12, Paul describes the local church as a human body where every person is gifted and important. That church at Corinth was behaving very badly. In perhaps the most serious thing that Paul says to them, he indicates that there are people in the church that have died because of their lack of spiritual awareness.
17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.
Division caused by a lack of care for the needs of others. We are called to look out for others.
20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
This community that we are placed in by God is meant to function together, we together are Grace Fellowship Church. The building is not the church, the pastor or the leadership is not the church. All of us together are Grace Fellowship Church. To be a member here, you must be a follower of Christ and you must publicly commit to support the people and vision of Grace Fellowship Church.
So, pray for one another. Secondly, Peter says it is of the highest importance that we…
- Love Others
Of course right? Well, what is love?
- Willing the good of others
I want what is best for you and for those around you as well, and therefore I will work for what is best for others!
- Love covers over many sins
Love and sin are at war with each other!
Why? Because sin is the enemy of love. The sin of others is what tempts us to withdraw love. Sin in me drives me away from love. Cain and Abel. But, if we can get ourselves to love others because of God’s love for us, then we will gain the upper hand! The sin of others does not have to drive us away from loving.
Think of this passage from I Cor 13 and how each of these characteristics from the list acts as a covering for sin.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Patience requires an irritation. Own your irritations and give others space. This does not mean that we don’t speak to others about their behaviors that infringe on the abilities of others to participate in public worship.
Kindness requires a reason that is often negative as well.
Does not dishonor others. You are of incredible value. This is important for you to know, not just for me to know, but you also. You are meant to reflect the image of God. This is your ultimate place of purpose. If you take this on, it will change your life.
Not self seeking, not easily angered: Both of these ideas have the best for others as a higher priority.
Always protects, trusts, hopes: These things are directed toward others and are especially operative when we are disappointed with others.
In this way, love takes the initiative to be responsible for having good relationships.
In a perfect world all of us are acting in this way and when I fail you, you pick up what is lacking in my love by loving me back.
And so, we will help each other follow Jesus Christ by praying for each other, by loving each other and finally, by serving
III. Serve One Another
- Practice hospitality (Without grumbling)
That means taking people in. In our context it relates to helping to make sure the regular needs of others do not interfere with the discipleship process. Childcare, helping folks who are new to feel at home, potluck, inviting to Wed PM, ladies Bible Study etc.
Why mention the without grumbling part? Because this is work! There is work to be done if we are to function best as a group. Again, if we can connect to God in this, then we have the opportunity to practically know the power of the Holy Spirit working through us in service to others.
- You are gifted to serve others
God set you up with gifts that come from Him so that you might be useful to Him and experience His power.
Take care of others kids. Teach a class. Help with the worship ministry. Run the sound booth. Bring food to potluck. Help set up chairs. Plan and execute a social event. What needs to be done? How can you help? Ask Barbara Collins. Ask Carol Lykins, Ask Mark Lykins, Ask Ted Stiritz etc.
- Speak and act as God’s representative
Teach, encourage, challenge, participate, pray for, minister to.
Look, Ephesians 4 says that God has given the church gifts of leaders and that their job is to equip the people in the church to do the work of ministry. Grace Fellowship Church has a ministry at every work place where you are acting as a minister. We have the opportunity to touch families, friends, job sites etc. And it is us! Lords prayer: Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. Is that happening? What if the world functioned as God intended it to?