Lord, use me in the gifts You have given to me.
Read 1 PETER 4:1–11
Living for God
4 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
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.
New International Version (NIV)
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“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful” (Psa. 139:13,14).
I was reading these words from Peter as I prayed for one of the young preachers in our congregation speaking that morning. “If anyone speaks…” (11) is an apt reminder to all of us to use our gifts well in serving others. This applies to much more than preaching—whatever gift we have received (10) we have a mandate to serve others with it. Knowing that God is the giver of the gift equips us with conﬁdence in using it with discipline and courage. Richard Foster has said, “How do we serve others in the world? We serve them by preparing ourselves to lead and by accepting the opportunity to lead when it is offered. Our world is hungry for compassionate, servant leaders” (Richard Foster, Money, Sex and Power, 243).
There is an interesting juxtaposition in this chapter between using one’s gifts and the call to holy living and prayer (7). Those of us who have hired staff for our organizations know that their effectiveness depends as much on their character and ability to be a part of the team as it does on their skills. Again, Peter sees Jesus as the model of a disciplined and holy life focused on mission.
Final judgment is coming (6)! Peter suggests that it is an extra incentive to live well for the sake of others. Of course, acting only to get the “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:21) at the end could mean that our service is not carried out in love. It could be that we are running roughshod over others to fulﬁll our own agendas, leading to a day of accounting when the wheat will be separated from the chaff (Matt. 3:12). Our objective must always be “so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (11).
God, we long to enter fully into all You created us to be, to see Your kingdom come. Accept our service as gratitude for all You are doing in us.
Lord, when I speak let it be with the anointing of God and not just words that I can make sound compelling.