1 Peter 4:7-11 - A graceful way to respond to the end of all things.
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. (1 Peter 4:7-11)
I came home from work today thinking that I would turn on the news and find out who would have won the two senate seats in Georgia’s special election. When I walked through the door I immediately became aware that something else had happened today. During a large protest a group of people broke into the Capital Building and stormed the house floor. In the mayhem a woman had been shot and the city was under a curfew.
I was saddened by the news and stood there for a while listening to the news casts concerning these events. One of the commentators spoke about how this sort of thing could be the end of our way of life. Another spoke about how she never thought she would have seen a day like this when such a thing could have happened in our capital. Another talked about how people feel like they have been ignored and that their values and way of life is threatened and so they are acting out like this.
Take a moment and consider the events of today and then read again 1 Peter 4:7-11. The opening words of this passage are incredible. Perhaps I have been reading the bible for so long that I forget just how shocking Peter’s opening words are, “The end of all things is at hand.” Maybe I deflect the weightiness of these words by just seeing them as the apostle Peter’s words; but these are the words of the LORD. There have been many generations of people who have seen things come to an end. There have been families whose whole lineage has come to an end by some tragedy. There have been entire towns that have come to an end because a factory or plant closed down. There have been many nations that have come to an end. But here in this passage Peter says by the Spirit that the end of all things is at hand.
These words, “The end of all things is at hand” ought to overshadow all other news of the day. Just like the election results today were overshadowed by the events at the capital. ‘The end of all things is at hand’ and the living and the dead will be judged. And because this moment could come at any time Christians ought to be diligent to preach the gospel to all men. Without Peter’s instruction we may get caught up in all of the chaos of the day. Peter, by the prompting of the HOLY SPIRIT, shows us that there is grace to respond in a better way.
How will people react if they found out that all things were coming to an end. How would they respond if they discovered that at the end of all things there still was a judgment to come (Heb 9:27; 1 Peter 4:5)? Some would ignore such news, others would give themselves over to all sorts of sensuality and debauchery, others would become angry and storm the capital. Consider the billions of dollars that is spent each year by our nation to thwart ‘climate change’. Think of the reaction that we have gone through in 2020 concerning COVID19. Fear has gripped the heart of the world and there has been no end to the reaction that we have seen economically, politically and socially.
Now having reflected upon these things let us consider the response that Peter says we ought to have to the news that ‘the end of all things is at hand’. He says, “Therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
As I look at this world, and to the nation that I live in, and see what the reaction has been to all of these things, I become all the more convinced that the HOLY SPIRIT inspired these words. Our natural reaction is not to be self-controlled and sober-minded. Our natural reaction is not to be watchful in prayer; rather, we look to ourselves or others for help. In moments like this so many are not endeavoring to love with earnest and to be hospitable without grumbling. In fact, the opposite has been the case. We are a completely divided people. And I find that I can so quickly get caught up into all of the passion and turmoil of these times.
Peter, however, gives us a great deal of encouragement in these verses. Christians are to be equipped with the grace of God to minister to others. Peter says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…”. During these last days the body of Christ, and the world to whom we are to minister the gospel too, would greatly benefit by a church that has received and is freely ministering God’s varied grace to others.
For the church to be effective in this grace and functioning well in these gifts we are told that we need to be self-controlled (serious, earnest and alert), sober-minded (sensible, watchful, clear-minded, disciplined), and prayerful. When we distribute this grace to others God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.