Living with Eternity in View
Living with Eternity in View The end of all things is near. Listening to the evening news, these words of Peter ring true. The present world order will soon collapse. Our material treasures will all burn up. The concerns that dominate daily life will pass away. Eternity should dominate our priorities. How should we live with eternity in view? With the end of this world facing us, we should live in fellowship with God. 1 Peter 4:7 says: The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. What is coming after the end? Verse 5 says that we will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. Judgment is coming. Even Christians will stand before Jesus' judgment seat. That will be a public judgment on our service for Jesus. Others will stand in judgment for their sin. We must live now to be ready then. We must live with eternity in view. But how? Peter says to live so that you can pray. We must maintain our fellowship with God. Prayer is the practice of fellowship with God. We must live so that nothing will hinder our prayers. Peter uses two terms to describe how we are to live in a healthy prayer relationship. The first means to be of sound mind, sensible, and serious. We must be in control of our passions and desires. Do not let the crises of the end times concern you so much that you forget God. Keep God central in your thinking. A sound mind is centered in faith in Jesus. The second term means to be sober, temperate, well-balanced, and self-controlled. The word literally means to "drink no wine" because alcohol confuses the mind. Figuratively it means "to be free of confusion" or "to be watchful". We must stay free of the confusion of this world so our minds can be in tune with God in prayer. This implies that we must make prayer our priority. But our judgment as Christians will cover more than our prayer life and our fellowship with God. It will also look at how we live in fellowship with one another. Listen to verses 8 and 9: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Above all, love each other deeply. Love each other. Love for others must begin in the church body if we are to love all people. Love deeply. Our love is to be fervent, an intense yet constant love. Such love is only possible when enabled by the Holy Spirit. It is a divine love, not merely human. Love because love covers a multitude of sins. Love motivates forgiveness and the settling of disputes. We do not leave our disputes for Jesus to settle at His judgment seat. Peter goes on to say that we are to offer hospitality. Literally, the word means "love of strangers". We are to show love even to people we do not know. Yet his words are offer hospitality to one another. We are especially to show hospitality to fellow believers. In the first century, inns were rare, unsafe, and often places of immoral activity. Traveling Christians, whether preachers, businesspeople, or messengers, needed a safe place to stay. Local Christians were expected to welcome them in. Peter adds, without grumbling. Hospitality is inconvenient, requiring genuine love for strangers. An Italian proverb says, "A guest is like a fish - after three days he stinks." Times have changed. Motels are now abundant, safe, and convenient. But hospitality is still the response of Christian love. The church should extend hospitality to all guests. At His judgment seat, Jesus will look for such acts of love. Christians standing before Jesus will not face condemnation for our sins. Jesus dealt with them at the cross. Instead, we will be judged for our faithfulness in serving Jesus in our love for one another to determine rewards. Peter has a third instruction. We are to first live in fellowship with God. Second, we are to live in fellowship with one another. And third, we are to live to serve others. Verses 10 and 11 say: Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it 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. God has given all of us gifts. Each one ... has received. God has equipped every one of us! When we use our gifts, we are administering God's grace. His gifts are freely given, undeserved by us. In verse 11, Peter uses the verb provide of God's gifting. This word literally means "to lead a chorus". It was used of wealthy sponsors that provided the resources for presenting a drama in a competition. Since this was expensive, the word came to mean to "lavishly supply, totally underwrite." When you exercise your gift, you can trust God to lavishly supply all you need. Peter also refers to God's grace in its various forms. God has a great variety of gifts that He distributes by His Holy Spirit to His people. Peter gives us the shortest gift list in the Bible, categorizing all these gifts in two types. First are gifts involving our speech: If anyone speaks. These include exhortation, teaching, counseling, witnessing, prophesy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, words of wisdom, and words of knowledge. The second type involve action: If anyone serves. These include showing mercy, healings, working miracles, cleaning the church or homes of the sick, counting offerings, keeping records, mowing lawns, helping others, feeding the poor. Peter's main point in verse 10 is: each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others. Each one indicates that everyone is gifted and has responsibility to serve. Should use reminds us that God gives His gifts to be used and we will be held responsible for them. To serve others reminds us that the gifts are not rewards but enablements intended for the common good, to help everyone. We are all called to be faithful stewards of the gifts, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. Your faithfulness will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ! Peter's main point in verse 11 is that we are to use our gifts relying on God's power. If you speak, speak with His authority, not your own. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. When you do acts of service, do it with the strength God provides. Exercise His gifts with His authority and His power so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To God be the glory and the power for ever and ever. This is the key to living with eternity in view! Live to give God all the glory and power forever. Live to serve others ... with His authority ... with His power ... for His glory Live to share His love: first in the church, then to all people Live in fellowship with God ... by faith in Jesus Christ ... through a consistent prayer life This fellowship with God ... Is the foundation to living with eternity in view Is worth more than all this earth can offer Will continue forever after this world comes to an end The end of all things is near! Live with eternity in view. Live in fellowship with God. Live to bring all the glory to God.