Imagine that God showed you in a dream tonight that either you would die or Christ would return exactly one week from today. How would you live in the last week that you had on earth? If you are a Christian walking with the Lord, then I know your answer. You would urgently seek to do all that you can for Jesus, especially working to bring your lost friends and family to know Him as you do. You would use your words, your actions, and your prayers to labor for the kingdom of God with all your might while you still could. Your love for Jesus would help you to forget about all the little grudges and conflicts in your relationships so that you could focus on serving the Lord. Whatever gifts that God has given you (teaching, serving, helping, music, giving, etc.) you would use to the utmost of your ability for His glory. You would be urgent (working fast) and fervent (working hard) about serving God now so that you could be ready to serve Him for all eternity.
Of course, the truth is that no one knows when Jesus will come back but the Father in heaven (Matthew 24:36), and most of us do not see death looming on our doorsteps right now. But Peter reminds us today that our time in this life could end at any moment. Therefore, we should be “serious and watchful in our prayers” and “above all things have fervent love for one another” (1 Peter 4:7-8). That means choosing to overlook the small offenses of others, showing hospitality or kindness to others, and being faithful stewards (managers) of our talents and abilities by using them for God’s kingdom and glory. There must be hustle and passion in our walks with the Lord. That’s what today’s passage tells us. Satan and this world system under his sway want to distract us from eternal matters. He wants us to ignore the states of our own souls and the souls of others. The enemy wants to keep us focused on making ourselves happy now, even or especially if it means sinning against God and others. But we must fix our minds and hearts each day on eternity. We must live for Jesus like tomorrow is not guaranteed – because the Bible says it isn’t.
The Text (1 Peter 4:7-11)
7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Background and Observations
• The statement that “the end of all things is at hand” is a definite reference to the coming return of Christ and the end of this age. The New Testament authors use a lot of different expressions to talk about the end times and the last days. Every time, the writers describe the end as being very near and use that truth as powerful motivation to be serious about living for the Lord on this earth while we still can.
• “Love will cover a multitude of sins” is a quotation of Proverbs 10:12. In that verse, we are told that “hatred stirs up strife,” or conflict between two people, while having love for each other allows them to forget about the small problems and offenses that might hurt their relationship. This is clearly Peter’s point in this passage; he wants Christians to overlook little stuff to focus on their unity in Christ and shared service in His church.
• In verses 9-11, Peter does not mention all of the possible New Testament gifts given to believers. He just gives a few examples, namely teaching and service, to represent the many different talents that God has given to His church to be used for His glory. Being serious about your walk with God includes intentionally seeking to discover your spiritual gifts so that you can use them to help serve in Christ’s church.
Questions to Think About
1. If you knew that you had only one week left on this earth, how would that change your life? What would you do in the short time that you had left before entering eternity?
2. How could you become more “serious and watchful” in your prayer life?
3. What are some specific ways that you can become more “fervent” (passionate, intense) in showing love to other Christians?
4. Have you discovered or begun to discover your spiritual gifts? How do you think that God wants you to serve with those gifts now and in the future? These would be good questions to ask a Christian mentor who knows you well; God often uses other believers to help us find His guidance.