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Reason to serve

The Thriving Christian  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Prior Week

Ephesians 2:1-10
Our salvation is from God, by God, for God.
Saved from God’s wrath (1-3)
Saved by God’s grace (4-9)
Saved for God’s works (10)

Principle

No matter how bad the world gets, we live for the good of others to the glory of God.

Passage

1 Peter 4:7–11
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

A. You must live with an eternal perspective... (7a)

the end = consummation or goal achieved (not that all things will stop).
at hand = close, imminent, the next thing on the agenda.
Notice preceding context (4:5-6): judgment. Men judge others, sometimes to wrongful death. God judges perfectly and righteously.
the point: we must live expecting Christ’s return and righteous judgment, no matter how bad things get!
Remember: Peter’s readers were being persecuted. (4:12ff)
How? By growing in Four active pursuits so that we are eternally minded Christians:

1. Live in a way that receives answered prayers (7b)

“therefore” – what is it there-for...? look back at context prior
...because Jesus is coming back soon to judge the rebellious and reward the righteous (consummation of God’s plan). You should live this way...
be self-controlled and sober-minded
Gal 5:22-23 (FotS), 1 Thess 4:4-5 (not passion/lusts),
not carried along or influenced by the world, emotions, or passions but has a level-headed eternal perspective on life.
for the sake of your prayers = the reason we must be self-controlled and sober-minded.
a mind carried along by the world, emotions, or passions will struggle to bring anything to God, let alone trust him to answer. James 4:3 (selfish prayer motivated by fleshly passions is not answered)
When we live mindful of Jesus’ return we will grow in praying for his will to be done according to his word – for our life and those around us.
Note: “be self-controlled and sober-minded” is the only imperative (command) in the Gr. However, from my study I read multiple commentators who said the force of those commands carries through this passage, which is why our english translations read like we are commanded to keep loving, show hospitality, and serve one another.

2. Love in a way that extends grace to others (8)

Above all = highest priority. 1 Cor 12:31b-13:13 (more excellent way, love never ends, greatest of these is love).
Interestingly 1 Cor 12-14 Paul is confronting the Corinth Christians about self-glorifying use of spiritual gifts.
Keep loving = carries the force of a command. Ongoing choice to love others.
Agape love – not primarily an emotion, but a decision of the will which leads to action. (exp. com.)
earnestly = persevering eagerness. not ‘one and done’ but ongoing in light of Christ’s soon return and judgment.
since = the reason we love others.
love covers a multitude of sins = Prov 10:12 “12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
Our love does not atone for sin, only Christ can. It covers in the sense that it does not go shouting others offenses toward us from the rooftops. 1 Cor 13:4-7. We can be ready to forgive sins against us personally even if the one who did it never actually asks for forgiveness.
This doesn’t negate confrontation as we’ll see next week. But it speaks to our readiness to forgive, and to Peter’s audience, even ready to forgive those who persecute us (because we know Christ will judge righteously, even if we are being treated unrighteously!)
Think back to Ephesians 2:1-10 – motivated to love others because we know what we once were!

3. Share in a way that helps those in need (9)

Show hospitality = “a concrete expression of love in a world without modern inns and hotels” (exp. com.)
Opening ones home to the family of Christ that you do not know. They are your adopted siblings that you have not yet met!
Hebrews 13:2 “2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8 – hospitality is a part of Christian maturity.
to one another = other believers. not a call to open your home to the homeless or anyone who knocks. But to be ready and willing to host (for meals or accommodation) fellow believers in need.
without grumbling = biblical hospitality can be inconvenient, disruptive, costly, and time-consuming. Yet we are to do it without complaint and with a ‘happy heart’ – again, looking to eternity knowing that Christ will judge righteously and reward us for the good works he has prepared for us (1 Cor 3:12-14, Eph 2:10).

4. Serve in a way that stewards God’s gift (10)

as each has received a gift = statement of fact. no action taken on our part to choose our gift but it was given to us at the moment of salvation (1 Cor 12:4-7 varieties of gifts...same Spirit...same Lord...same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”)
use it to serve one another = gifted for the good of others.
Team sport; everyone has a role and position to play for the benefit of the team.
An analogue watch; the visible parts may look grand, but they are useless without the unseen parts.
Puzzle pieces; strengths stick out, weaknesses are the holes. My strengths fill in someone else’s weakness, so when each member of the church functions as God designed it creates a clearer picture of Christ for the world to see.
The Church; many members, but not all are eyes or ears. Each has a part to play. Jealousy over another’s gifting has no place. (1 Cor 12:14-17)
as good stewards of God’s varied grace = gift of grace from God. God’s choice, not ours, for God’s glory, not ours.
1 Cor 12:18 “18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.
When we neglect the use of our spiritual gift, or pout in jealousy over another’s gift that we want, we are saying to God “you made the wrong choice.” Foolish.
Peter divides into two broad categories
whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God = if our gift involves speaking, we must speak God’s words, not our own, for God’s glory, not our own.
whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies = if our gift involves serving, we must serve in God’s strength, not our own, for God’s glory, not our own.

B. All to the glory of God (11)

in order that = the reason for our live, love, share, and serve is not for our gain, our glory, or even our good. It is always for someone else. But this is the ultimate reason for why we do anything in the Christian life.
The temptation is to let this truth become cliche. We must not do that.
in everything God may be glorified = we ought to make much of God in all that we do because he is worth it.
Eph 2:1-10 helps to clarify part of the reason – he has given us life and purpose.
Gen 1:1 gives another reason – he is our creator. Rom 9:21 the potter decides what the clay becomes.
through Jesus Christ = we often think of Christ as the 2nd person of the trinity who died for our sins. That’s true, but it’s also much more than that. Jesus himself, in John 17:1-3 “1 ...“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever = Remember: the end is at hand. That “end”, or consummation, is the coming of God’s eternal reign over all things. Yes there are multiple things that happen in bringing that about, but the hope for us in Christ is that we do not need to fear this end, but we long for, and live for his eternal reign, starting now, not waiting until it happens.
No matter how bad the world gets, we live for the good of others to the glory of God.
Christ is coming back to judge the living and the dead, so we should live in light of that reality.
This means we must practice self-control and sober-mindedness in order to pray effectively and see God’s will done.
This means we make loving one another a priority because it allows us to forgive others as we’ve been forgiven in Christ.
This means we will share what we have with one another with a ‘happy heart’ for the furtherance of the gospel.
This means we will serve one another with the spiritual gift God has given us because we want to be good stewards – speaking his words for the growth of others, serving in his strength for the benefit of others.
And all of our praying, loving, sharing, and serving is not done for our own esteem or gain, but solely because God alone is worthy to be praised. He is being glorified through Jesus Christ who makes it possible for you and I to live this way even when the world hates us.
We must engage our will in dependent obedience to him knowing that all glory and dominion already belong to him eternally, we choose, moment by moment, to order our lives in such a way that it is clear we agree with this truth!
No matter how bad the world gets, we live for the good of others to the glory of God.

Put (off & on)

How does living with an “eternal perspective” change our daily decisions?
What steps can we take to grow in self-control and sober-mindedness so our prayers are more effective?
Does love cover over every sin, or are there times where we should call someone to confess and repent of their sin? How do we know what to cover vs call someone out?
What place does hospitality to “strangers” have for today?
How do we discover our spiritual gift and is it even necessary to do that?

Prayer

end the night praying with and for one another.

Practice

Repent of any jealousy you may have over someone else’s gifting.
Thank God that he has gifted you as one of his children.
Ask God to help you discern how he has gifted you.
Serve your local church in whatever ways the Lord allows (not all at the same time, but be willing to try different areas as you seek to understand how you can best glorify God with the gift he has given you).
Evaluate your impact in your area of service and ask for feedback from mature Christians alongside you.
Repeat steps 1-5 until the Lord Jesus calls you home!
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