Stewards of God’s Grace by Pastor Paul

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Being Stewards of the Grace of God in These Last Days

1 Peter 4:7-11

“The end of all things is at hand; 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 each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace …in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

I have always found it interesting that as Peter is writing to believers in the midst of suffering for Christ, he tells them the end of all things is at hand; therefore keep living self-controlled, sober-minded, intentional, gospel-centered lives. He doesn’t say, “the end of all things is at hand, therefore forsake normal daily life, flee to the mountains, and wait for the end to come.” When Peter speaks of the “end of all things is at hand,” he means Jesus Christ has come, died, risen to life, and His Spirit has now come. We are in the days often referred to as the “already but not yet.”  In these days we are awaiting another event to come, which is the return of Jesus Christ and the final consummation of all things. In these days, the gospel is to go forth in all the Earth. For those who heed the Gospel and entrust themselves to the Lordship of Christ, they are freed from living for human passions and are now empowered by the Spirit to do God’s will (1 Peter 4:2). Believers are raised to life in Christ so that for the rest of these end days, his or her life would be active, intentional, and gospel-centered for the glory of God. Peter simply wants believers to keep perspective on the days we now live in and how we are called to prioritize our lives in light of it.

Maybe these first readers, being convinced of the immediate return of Christ, were tempted to forsake all normal daily living and hide away until Christ returned. Maybe they didn’t see the importance of taking time to invest in one another, thinking the end is soon. Regardless, Peter exhorts the hearers to be good stewards of God’s grace and to live self-controlled, sober-minded lives, continuing to love and invest in one another. He urges them to spend their time using God-given gifts to serve one another gladly without grumbling. To serve in such a way that when they speak, they are speaking words of exhortation that  point one another to the steadfast, immovable hope that is in Jesus. When they serve, they are to serve despite their weaknesses or difficult circumstances, so that the strength of God is seen. And they ought to show hospitality, investing their time to invite one another into their homes, extending generosity toward one another so that in all things God would be glorified through Jesus Christ.

Are we not called to live in the same way? The apostle Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “For you are fully aware that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  While people are saying, ‘Peace and security,’ destruction will come upon them suddenly, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in the darkness so that this day should overtake you like a thief… So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” (1 Thess. 5:3-6). Brothers and sisters, we have been saved to no longer live for ourselves and human passions but rather being “awake and sober” living for the will of God.

This means that our lives are to be so wholly identified with and impacted by the Gospel that in these last days everything we do is in light of and unto Jesus Christ. We are not to be found in a state of anxiety, nor complacency to our calling, but rather a life of steadfast, immovable hope in Jesus Christ and a striving toward making Him known. In light of this we are to be stewarding God’s grace by investing in and serving one another, making good use of every moment until He returns, unto the glory of God.

It won’t be “the last days” forever. There is an end day. For the believer this is nothing to fear but only a hopeful anticipation of the return of our Savior. However, as we patiently wait, we ought not to hide away or be complacent, but rather we are to keep a right perspective, to urge all people to look to Christ, and to intentionally pursue to love and serve one another each day with the gifts God has given.

Our perspective of reality will influence how we rank priorities in our life. For Peter, he writes this letter knowing his days are coming to an end soon. He sees most importantly to remind the readers of the days we live in and that the priorities of believers should reflect this reality.

Does how you steward your time reflect this perspective Peter is giving for the church? Are you allowing the distractions of the world and its promise of comfort, peace and security to take your attention from the work you are called to as a member of the body of Jesus Christ? These are not words of rebuke from Peter, but words of reminder and perspective, so that our lives would reflect our calling to live a life marked by and worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to which we have been saved.

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