A Life Lived for Christ
Our passage is the conclusion of Peter’s section on how to glorify God while living as aliens in a hostile world. Peter has talked about submitting to authority as modeled by Christ. He gave instructions to husbands and wives in regards to how they are to conduct themselves within theirs marriages so that God may be glorified. He has shared how the Christian is to endure suffering through pursuing righteousness. Now in verses 7 through 11 encourages Christians to glorify Christ and exalt him as Lord because his return is imminent.
Peter starts off this passage with a reminder that Christ return is at hand. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection brought about the last days that are leading up to “the end of all things.” Peter uses this as a spring board or catalyst for the imperatives that follow. I want you think about what the end of all things should mean to a Christian and hear what Thomas Schreiner wrote in New American Commentary, “The imminence of the end should function as a stimulus to action in this world. The knowledge that believers are sojourners and exiles, whose time is short, should galvanize them to make their lives count now.” For the Christian the imminence of Christ’s return should motivate us to equip ourselves so that we may engage our word not retreat from it. The end of all things is drawing near; therefore, we must ask the the question what should we be doing? God’s word says we should be living in such a way that glorified Christ and exalts him as Lord. The imperatives we are about to look at are the blueprint for living a life that glorifies Christ and exalts him as Lord.
Peter’s command is for people to be self-controlled and sober-minder so that they may pray. What he is saying is that Christians need to have a clear understanding of what the end times mean for lost people ad how valuable the present day is Some people hear about the end times and go full out dooms day preppers with shipping containers thirty feet below ground encased in concrete with air purifiers to survive the nuclear apocalypse. That is a wrong understanding of the end times and that is losing your mind not pursuing clarity. Some Christians read and say that time is now and I want no part of it. Therefore, they retreat from the world. I fear this what the church is doing now. We see unrighteousness exponentially growing in our world and retreat to our church buildings and Christian small groups. I agree the end is near. We could use as a check list and check every box multiple times. If you don’t agree then go watch any network tv show. Every one of them promotes the acceptance and normalcy of sin at some point in their shows. Observe and listen to the world around you. Look at how they act, how they dress, how they talk. The world is pursuing unrighteousness at an alarming rate. However, the Christian response to a world that is pursuing unrighteousness and in love with sin should never be to retreat to our churches and small groups so that we can talk about how awful those people, talk about how we can’t believe somebody could be that way, and say that even we weren’t Christians we would never be that way. If that is your response to the end times then your mind is just as clouded as the dooms day prepper. Listen, your sin caused Christ just as much pain as their sin. A person pursuing clarity understands that.
We are pursuing clarity when we understand that Christ’s return means eternal suffering for all who failed to believe and trust in him. That clear thinking will motivate us to engage the world with the Gospel of Christ rather than retreat. We also pursue clarity when we understand the value of the present. Today we are in period of grace. All people who believe and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are forgiven of their sin and given a relationship with God because Jesus suffered God’s punishment so sin on the cross, died as a sacrifice for sin, and rose again three days later.
The days we have now are a gift from God so that we may glorify him through the sharing of the Gospel and the making of disciples. When we have this clear thinking we will be motivated to pray that God would use us to engage the lost world with the Gospel of Christ. We will pray that God would act and move in a miraculous way through us so that we might see lost people who are destined to hell come to faith in Christ before our very eyes. We will beg God to work through us to bring a person into the family of God through hearing the Gospel from us and placing their faith and trust in Christ alone. Jesus always had this clarity and we see an example of it on the Mount of Olives where Jesus was praying in , “And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” We should pursue clarity in our hearts and minds until we can honestly echo Jesus’ words of “not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus was always self-controlled and sober-minded which resulted in him always having clarity and always glorifying and exalting God. When we are pursuing clarity through being self-controlled and sober-minded we glorify Christ and exalt him as Lord through our prayers and our actions. Out of this pursuit of clarity should come the practice of love.
When we are pursuing clarity through being self-controlled and sober-minded we glorify Christ and exalt him as Lord through our prayers and our actions. Out of this pursuit of clarity should come the practice of love.
Love is central to the Christian life. Another Apostle and Disciple of Jesus, John, writes this in say “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Both passage echo what Jesus said in “And he said to them, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” The practice of Love is an essential mark of someone who has been transformed by the overwhelming love of Christ. Paul remind us in that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Peter’s command is to love one another earnestly because love cover s multitude of sins.
In contemplating how we should live our lives in light of Christ’s return, Christians should come to the conclusion that our short time we have should be spent loving God and reciprocating that love to others. Edwin Blum writes about love in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary that, “Love is capable of being commanded because it is not primarily an emotion but a decision of the will leading to action.” Loving others is a decision that leads us to action. In Matthew 24Jesus answered the question the disciples had about signs regards his return and the end of the times and part of Jesus’ answer found in is, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” A sign that Jesus’ return is drawing near is that love will grow cold meaning it will diminish because lawlessness will increase. Friends the end is near. Lawlessness is more prevalent than ever before and true Biblical love is diminishing rapidly. However, for the Christian that doesn’t mean we retreat to our safe zones and wait. The truth that love is diminishing from our world means that Christians must determine in our hearts and minds to engage the lawless world around us with the love of Christ and the love found in his Gospel.
We practice love when we engage the world with the Gospel. Lost people see and engaged in the lawlessness of the world. What they see often is not love but hate and self-centeredness. What they feel from Christians is often judgement and apathy. Lost people are in pursuit of love and acceptance, but because of their sin they go about finding it the wrong way, and often what they receive from us as Christians who have found true love and acceptance in Christ is condemnation and apathy. We should never be accepting of the sin of people, but we must also remember that Jesus accepted and redeemed us despite our sin. Our sin didn’t cause Jesus to love us. The Bible doesn’t say we have to clean ourselves up and love Jesus before he loves us. No, says, “In this love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” God loved us even when we were pursuing lawlessness; God doesn’t say get right then i’ll accept you. He says come to Christ, and in Christ you are loved and accepted. Listen to “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” Let the one who hears or let anybody who hears say come and be partakers of Christ righteousness. Let anyone who hears say come. That is love. Engaging the lost world with the Gospel is love.
We practice love when we forgive fellow believers. One aspect of love that Peter writes about is that love covers a multitude of sin. The word in Greek that is translated “to cover” means to keep secret or conceal. I believe this relates to believers forgiving and not making it know when one believer sins against another. Somebody might say well that is wrong we should expose all sin, but I would then ask you do you want people knowing about every sin you commit towards another person. Do I want Mandy to tell others when I sin against her, or is it helpful if I share when she sins against me to everybody? No, the best thing to do is to handle our sin between us. Because of love for each other we forgive each other and cover each others’ sin with love. This idea of love coving sin means that we forgive sin and do not hold sin against a person who seeks reconciliation.
When we go to God seeking forgiveness does he make our sin know? Does he continue to hold our former sins against us? No, he forgives us when we repent of sins. God’s love covers our sin. Not only does God’s love cover our sins, but through Jesus Christ God’s love redeems the sinner who believes and trusts in Jesus Christ and who is seeking reconciliation with their almighty and holy creator. Who love cannot redeem people like God’s love can, but our love for others can point people to our Lord and Savior, and through Christ they can experience God’s redeeming love.
The last application on love is that we practice love when we are cheerfully hospitable. In verse 9 Peter gives the command to “show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” In we find a passage that talks about the marks of a true Christian. Paul says “let love be genuine.” he tells us to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Then in verse 13 he says, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” In his letters to Titus and Timothy Paul list being hospitable as a qualification for an overseer, and in the author writes “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
At the time Peter was writing in order for the church to function and for believers to gather together for corporate worship believers would of had to hospitable to each other. They would of had to open up there homes. They would of had to give up there time to comfort each other while living a world that is hostile to them. In order for the church to grow they would of open up their home and allowed traveling missionaries to stay night. They would of provided a meal and supplies so they could continue on sharing the Gospel and making disciples. Hospitality was the norm and was necessary part of living and participating within a community of fellow believers.
Being hospitable is one way in which love manifests itself. I fear this act love is dying out. The gathering of believers is almost always done at the church or in a restaurant. We no longer open up our homes to one another much less a lost person. We want to have a shower for someone we do it at the church. We want to have a fellowship we do it at the church. We want to share a meal with somebody we meet at a restaurant. Hosting people in your home is a sacrifice of time and resources. It is an inconvenience to you. You have to clean house before they get there, provide for people while they are there, and then clean up after they leave. Showing hospitality to people is hard work, but Peter and God do not care! The command is still the same! Show hospitality to one another without grumbling!” Going to eat at a restaurant with people isn’t showing hospitality! Having a fellowship at the church isn’t showing hospitality! Loving one another enough to invite people over, prepare a meal, and serve them is how we show hospitality. So what if it is an inconvenience! There is a more personal connection when you host people in your home. This isn’t a suggestion from God, but a command. If you have the love of God in you through faith in Christ one of God’s command is to show hospitality. Any breaking of God’s commands is sin; therefore, to neglect to show hospitality to others is a sin against God. In order for us to glorify Christ and exalt him as Lord we must be people who show our love through being hospitable.
Peter transitions from the imperative to show love to the imperative for believers to provide support for each through using their spiritual gifts.
Every person who has believed and trusted in Jesus Christ has recieved a spiritual gift from God through the Holy Spirit. Two main categories that Peter puts these gifts into is speaking gifts and serving gifts, but the important thing to realize is that you have a gift from God. Hear me now, this gift whatever it may be isn’t for you. This spiritual gift from God isn’t so you can feel better; it isn’t to boost your self esteem. This gift from God is for the sole purpose of serving others! Your spiritual gift is not for your benefit; it is for the benefit of others. If you don’t believe me then let’s read the Bible. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” Your spiritual gift was given to you by God so that you may provide support to the church, so that you may building up the body of Christ. We must understand that spiritual gifts are not a privilege we are given to use when we feel like it. No, they are a responsibility which means we must be actively using them if we are going to glorify Christ. When we fail to use our spiritual gifts we are not harming ourselves but we are harming our church, we are harming the people of God. This should motivate us to discover and use the gifts that God has given us, and this should remind us of our need for the church. Others have gifts you need. We must be willing to accept that we need each other and we need to minister to each other. We provide support when we use our spiritual gifts to build up God’s people.
Peter writes about spiritual gifts by putting them into two categories. The first one is speaking gifts. These would be those gifted to teach, preach, evangelize, and explain the truths of the Scriptures. Peter says if you have this gift use it to “speak oracles of God.” Peter isn’t saying that those who have a speaking gift can speak new revelations from God. People who proclaim that are heretics. He means that if you posses this type of gift then God expects you use it to lead people to a better understanding of his word. By possessing a speaking gift you are bound by God’s word. Anything you say must fall in line with the Gospel and the Word of God. You are not free to add your own truth or manipulate God’s word to further your own agenda. You are not permitted to take God’s word out of context so that you can get your point across. If God has gifted you with a spiritual speaking gift then understand the privilege and responsibility you have to faithful teach and communicate God’s word. We provide support when we use our gifts to faithfully communicate God’s word.
The other category is serving gifts. These could be the gift of encouragement, mercy, serving, faith, and several others. If you posses this type of gift then you are to use it within the boundaries of the strength that God will provide. You are not permitted to use your spiritual gift in your own strength. If you are going to properly use your gift of serving then you must be solely dependent upon the strength that God provides. You cannot faithfully fulfill your responsibly if you try to rely upon your own strength just like you cannot be a faithful teacher if you do not stay confined to God’s word. We provide support when we are dependent on God to provide us the strength to serve.
Why do we use our spiritual gifts? Why do we teach? Why do we serve? So that God may be glorified. Peter’s audience were aliens living a hostile word. We today are aliens living in the end times with unrighteousness growing around us. We must use our gifts to encourage and build one anther up so that we may unite together and bring glory to God.
Peter ends this section he started back in chapter two about how to glorify God in a hostile world with a typical praise to God. He writes in verse 11 “To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Why are we submissive to authorities? Why do we seek to honor our husband or wife? We do we endure persecution? Why must we show love through forgiveness and hospitality? Why must we pursue clarity in our hearts and minds? Why do we have the responsibly to use our spiritual gifts? The answer is because to Jesus belongs glory and dominion. Jesus is worthy to be glorified and exalted as Lord. If you have never believed and trusted in Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you are not capable of glorify or exalting Christ. However, as we talked about God has already shown his love for you. Christ has already suffered for and atoned for sin on the cross. The moment you believe and trust in him God forgives you of your sins, gives you a relationship with him, and equips you with the Holy Spirit who allows you glorify and exalt Christ. I pray you would believe and trust in Christ tonight.
Believers we have the responsibility to glorify Christ and exalt him as Lord in our life through pursuing clarity in our hearts and minds, practicing love, and providing support. Are there areas you are falling short? Are there areas you need encouragement in? Do you need to seek God’s forgiveness and commit to living your life with clarity, love, and support so that Jesus may be glorified and exalted as Lord? Whatever you need to do use this time to respond to God as the Holy Spirit leads.