1 Peter 4:7-10
“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another.”
Peter gives a series of exhortations, all predicated upon the fact that the end is near. When the Bible refers to the end of all things, it does so, not out of fear or despair, but out of joy and anticipation. For the believer, the end of all things means Christ will call His church home, and ultimately return to set up His earthly kingdom, where He will reign and rule in righteousness.
This end was the anticipation of the prophets of old, who spoke of things like righteousness covering the earth, as the waters cover the sea; or the lion and the lamb lying down together; and weapons of war being turned into instruments of agriculture; and men learning war no more. Peter is reminding us that Christ will come back and make things right.
In addition to filling us with hope, the reality of His return should stir us to proper behavior. Peter lists four areas of life that should be impacted by the expectation of Christ’s return. First, we must be watchful in prayer. I think there are two very important things we must watch for in prayer. One, we must watch that we are praying. Too often, prayer becomes our last resort, instead of our first instinct. If we want to see God accomplish the things He promises, we must be men and women of prayer. James said we have not, because we ask not (James 4:2). Also, we must watch that we are praying according to the Word of God. The Bible is filled with promises predicated upon asking. James went on to explain, the reason we do not see God accomplish what He promises is that we ask amiss (James 4:3). In other words, we are asking for things He has no intention of doing, while neglecting to ask Him to do what He promised.
Second, Peter exhorts us to love one another. Love is the greatest of all the commandments. Jesus said our first love must be directed to God. If we truly love God, it will be expressed in love for each other. John asked, “How you can love God whom you cannot see, if you do not love others who you do see” (1 John 4:20)? One way this love is expressed is through covering the faults of another. Peter is not suggesting that we condone sin. The Bible clearly teaches, if a Christian is in sin, we must confront him, to help rescue him from impending danger. What we are exhorted to do is look beyond the failures of one another, and love each other. This is where forgiveness is a huge expression of love. The proper way to have a relationship is to be willing to forgive and press forward.
Third, Peter speaks of being hospitable. The Greek word translated hospitable is a compound word literally meaning “to love strangers.” As we are to love each other, we are also to love those who do not yet know Christ. One of the great ministries of the early church was breaking bread from house to house. They turned their homes into places where others were welcome to come and learn about Jesus. We should be those who are always looking for ways to express the love of Christ to those who have not yet come to Christ.
Finally, Peter declares that as we await the arrival of Jesus, we must be involved in ministry. Sadly, many Christians think ministry is to be done by the professionals; when the Bible clearly teaches that every Christian has been called to ministry. The church was designed by Jesus as a place where the Bible would be taught so the Christian could grow and impact others. It was also to be a place where the Gospel would be declared, so Christians can bring their friends and family to hear about Jesus and be saved. As we await Christ’s return, let’s be busy serving the Lord.
Questions for 1 Peter 4
1. Verses 1-2, therefore….what is this therefore? Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind. What does this bring?
2. The end of verse 2 tells us we should live for the will of God. Verse 3 tells us what is not the will of God, which is the will of the Gentiles (man). What is listed as the will of the Gentiles, are you doing any of these things?
3. Verse 5, who will give an account to Him who is ready to judge?
4. 2 different people are described here, dead and alive. Which are you?
5. Starting in verse 7, we are told the end is at hand. How are we supposed to treat each other?
6. Verses 9-11 give us instruction to be “stewards of God’s grace”. Did you know that God has entrusted you to minister His grace to others? Minister means servant, have you taken this attitude with friends, family or co-workers? Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.
7. We are not to be surprised when “fiery trials” come our way (verse 12). Suffering because we do things we shouldn’t do is one thing, suffering because we are living as a Christian is another. Verses 12-19 tell us that we will suffer, are you suffering because of sin in your life or because you are living for Jesus? Be honest with yourself; seek the Lord for change in the areas of sin and strength in the areas of living for Him. Romans 12:2-13.