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End-Time Ethics

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End-Time Ethics

1 Peter 4:7–11 CSB
The end of all things is near; therefore, be alert and sober-minded for prayer. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
It is getting worse. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ I cannot say with any certainty that we are in the end times. However, I can say that this is a time of trial. What is more as the end times approaches that trials will get worse. So how are we to respond?
Peter offers several admonitions for the people to survive and thrive through the end times. He says we need to be alert, sober minded, prayerful, loving, hospitable, and serving. Lets break down each of these and discern how these things might apply to us today.
Be Alert:
This Greek word is defined as: to be soberly wise v. — to think and live wisely in self-control over one’s passions and desires. This is a trait that seems so foreign to our current cultural moment. We have let passion and desire cloud our thinking about the circumstances of our time. Many have abandoned self-control. And it is difficult to find wisdom in our dialog. It seems that demanding your way has become the guiding principle of our times. It reminds me of the verse in Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The warning to be soberly wise is very valuable to our time. We cannot let the passions of the worldly strife take our heart and soul where God does not want us to go!
Sober Minded:
Peter doubly emphasizes the importance of having self-control. This word means: to get self-control ⇔ sober up v. — to curb the controlling influence of inordinate emotions or desires (and therefore become reasonable); conceived of as sobering up from the influence of alcohol. At times emotions and desires are a mind altering control over our thinking. Honestly I have fallen into this mindset. The warning here is to guard against falling into the altered state. The word gives a similarity to being under the influence of alcohol. Have your emotions and/or desires altered your mind? Peter’s admonition is “sober up!”
Prayer:
This is most certainly a time of prayer. I am so thankful for the Pastors at Richland Baptist Church. We have been meeting regularly to encourage each other in our walk with God. But more importantly we have been praying. We have been asking God to push us toward the things he wants in our lives. We have been praying for how God would have us lead. Praying for His Holy Spirit to fill our lives. We have prayed for the boldness and encouragement from the Lord. Quite honestly I have spent more time in prayer in the last two years than at any other time in my life. I don’t say that as a boast. I say that because that is what is needed at this time. We need to be in prayer.
Above all maintain constant love:
This has been the central truth that God has put on my heart. Anyone that has been reading my posts know this.
The phrase “above all” is vitally important to this verse. It means that love is to be the overarching and controlling influence in all that we do. The full extent of all that we do ought to be grounded in love. I am still working on this. I cannot say that I have been able to do this well. Prayerfully God is showing me how to love in His way.
We are to maintain love. That is love is active and intentional on our part. We cannot passively approach this subject of love. We are to keep love. When we lose love then we are going to be tossed about in the storm of this cultural moment. Love is the stabilizing force that keeps us grounded. The moment you start to maintain love the Devil will attack you. He does not want you to experience the power of God’s love in your life. Be forewarned maintaining love is no easy task.
We are to have a constant Love. This means that there is no sometimes love. Love is marked by great care and diligence. It is loving even when the natural thing would be to hate (Matthew 5:43-45).
Loving in this way has a product that is very important to the Christian life. At the very center of our faith is the grace and forgiveness that exist in the salvation we find in Jesus Christ. This forgiveness of sin is the very essence of the Gospel (good news) of our faith. When we love then it “covers a multitude of sins.” Let’s face it each of us are broken and sinful. We miss the mark with regularity. Without the covering of sin we would be hopeless. It is love of God that covers our sin in righteousness. So then when we love others we are forgiving of what every short comings they may have. Loving relationships are transforming. Hateful relationships are destructive. We need to be know by our love!
Be Hospitable:
This word is defined as: hospitable adj. — disposed to treat guests and strangers with cordiality and generosity. In our time there is a complete abandoning of cordiality and generosity. It has been lost. It does not surprise me that it has been lost in the world. What really troubles me is how much it has been lost in the Church. The church has become in many ways an inhospitable and viscous place. There have always been moments and places over the years that I have experienced this, but it has always been the exception and not the the norm. We have lost this. We need to get it back soon!
We are to be hospitable without complaining. Boy do we like to complain. I include myself in that. If there is something that we do not like we are quick to complain. The specific word here is grumbling. It reminds be of when the Israelites were in the desert and God was providing them daily food and yet the still complained about the leadership of Moses (Numbers 14:27). Complaining is very disheartening. It saps the zeal and excitement for the Lord. It is like a sail without a wind. Complaining makes you dead in the water. Ironically most people criticize because they want something to change. However, criticism makes change less not more likely. Any change positive or negative stalls in the face of Criticism
Serve Others:
God has given each of us gifts. We are to use these gifts in the service of others. That is our primary ministry in the kingdom of God. Our goal is not to be served but to serve. Often in church life we get that backwards. We look for ways that the body of Christ can serve our needs. Don’t get me wrong it is a blessing to receive the love and grace that comes from people who care about you. That is how it is supposed to work. However, our goal ought not to be to seek that out for ourselves, but rather how can we live that out toward others. Are you discontented? Then find somewhere in the church that you can serve and devote yourself to being the best God can make you to be in that position of service. Serve with excellence and Love.
We need to speak God’s words as we serve. Often we replace what God says with what we think is best. That is bound to create problems. We need to follow God and not use human idea, wisdom, polity, argument to encourage one another in church. That is not to say there is not wisdom that can be brought to bear in our walk. The Bible does not explain cardiology. However, man’s wisdom can never be held above or replace the clear teachings of God’s word. In order to know God’s word you have to be in God’s word. It is astounding to me how many who name Christ as their savior have never read the Bible once. Sure they look at selected passages, but never the whole book. We need to take the precious gift of God’s word to heart. We do that by digging into His Holy Bible.
We need to serve in God’s strength. I have at various times tried to do things in my own strength. I can go for a while this way, but it always ends poorly. I need to remember that. God is my strength.
That God Might Be Glorified:
What is the purpose of being alert, sober minded, prayerful, loving, hospitable, and serving? Well the main purpose it to glorify God. When we act in this manner God gets the glory of our obedience. We get the blessings of His pleasure. And ultimately it is not even our obedience purely. It is the work of Christ in our lives transforming us into the people that God has called us to be. So in that sense Jesus gets the glory for the work of sanctification in your life.
Dear brothers and sisters we are in a time of judgement. We need to get our house in order. I will talk more on this in my next post. In the meantime let us stay alert, be sober minded, spend more time in prayer, love in all ways and all circumstances, Practice being hospitable, and serving each other well.
God Bless You
~BJ
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