Serving with Eternity in Sight
Topic: Sunday Sermons Passage: 1 Peter 4:7–4:11
 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:  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.
Last week we took the time in Galatians 5 to consider how we’re given the freedom in Christ -not to look back at our past to define how we live today- rather, to go out and give ourselves away. Today, in 1 Peter 4 I believe we’ll see how we’re called, while giving ourselves away to keep our eyes fixed on eternity as we serve one another.
Christ Reigns, is resurrected, is returning - in light of that - How do we live? And how do we do so “earnestly”?
Let’s begin by recognizing that only the gospel generates such inside-out affection and service of others, for Jesus Christ has loved us earnestly.
ILLUS: In our home, eyes of initiative - begs the question of each of us: what are you focused on / looking at? Our eyes will often give us away, what they’re looking at most often, who they are looking to for instruction, etc.
All of us have eternity imprinted on our hearts as Ecclesiastes 3:11 reminds us… he has put eternity into man’s heart… it’s a key part of how we’re made, we want to live for something that will last, we want to be a part of building something that will last… that is a part of God’s design from the beginning!
Those who are here that are believers are to live in light of Christ’s return - not deny the world but stay alert
Yesterday at a memorial service: when we all get to heaven
When we all get to heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!
Today we’ll see that: Christ's followers are called to look ahead to eternity and live today like we know where we're headed!
Look Ahead to Eternity!
The context for us today, in the book of 1 Peter, is again a book written in the earthly reign of the Emperor NERO - you may recall his horrifulness from our Romans series. The church in Rome was scattered, exiles in foreign lands facing much persecution and sufferings for their faith.
Startling words begin our passage here, it can be easy to dismiss and say something like - these words were written so long ago, they haven’t happened yet, why live with urgency? BC we’re always living in the end times.
The end is near: THEREFORE live this way… any time God’s Word gives us direction on how we are to live, it draws from an ultimate reality and morality. It is drawn from our Eternal Reality, our renewed morality given as we’re clothed in Righteousness by Christ - not based on a worldly logic, morality or reality as defined by today’s feelings
Our passage closes today with these words as well: To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. - we have this hope to look forward to. An eternity with Him, pain and sufferings behind us. Perfect union and communion restored. Heaven experienced as our home. Dwelling in the presence of our maker forever! (Sometimes it sounds so wonderful, I just want to go now!)
With our perspective fixed on eternity, it informs how we think about things going on around us today, it renews the thoughts that we have in our mind...
Self-controlled & Sober-minded (v.7)
The imminent arrival of the end is not a call simply to look into heaven and wait for Jesus’ return. Instead, believers are to be self-controlled and sober-minded, so that they may be devoted to prayer and maximize their usefulness in God’s kingdom.
Self-controlled (fruit of the spirit at work in your life)
Clear minded, sane in your thinking…
(Luke 5) Demoniac in scripture was healed by Jesus and brought him to a place of clear-minded ness (same word: sane)
The fog is lifted, the static around our minds is cleared
Don’t deny that there is an end coming, where we will give account for our lives, live in a sane -“clear minded”- way.
For the sake of your prayers may be translated more clearly for us today: to inform your prayers.
Our prayers are to be seasoned with love and a heart for our neighbors (hospitality) but aware of the urgent times we live in. Our prayers should be level-headed and faith filled
Note: so far - our eternity mindset, self control, sober-mindedness - these all deal with us as individuals, informed by our relationship with God. There’s an effect in our relationships with others as an overflow of the goodness, mercy, kindness, hope, etc. that we’ve received from Him!
Live today like you know where you’re headed!
Sincere Love (v.8)
Enduring love for others testifies that a person is living in light of the future. True love covers a multitude of other people’s sins (Prov. 10:12). Where love abounds, offenses are frequently overlooked and quickly forgotten.
The work of a Christian is simply this: love. This is the fulfillment of all the law (Rom. 13:8–10). Yet love is hard. How do we love others? And how do we do so “earnestly”?
Only the gospel generates such inside-out affection and service of others, for Jesus Christ has loved us earnestly. As our hearts are armed by the love of Christ, we are changed. We delight to love others (cf. Eph. 4:32–5:2).
Showing Hospitality (v.9)
Hospitality, much admired in both Greco-Roman and Jewish sources (cf. 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8), was much needed in an era when inns could be dangerous and unpleasant.
Serving One Another (v.10-11)
10 - We have all, as believers in Jesus, received a gift of the spirit! We are called to steward (care for, minister to others through) those gifts. Making use of the gifts will provide many opportunities for what we’ve been talking about: a need to repent, being refined in how we’re going about things, responding rightly when persecution comes (deserved or not)
11 - Peter specifically references our speech and our service as ways that we not only respond in a moment but repeat throughout our lives
God has given a spiritual gift to each believer, and each is to use it “to serve one another” (v. 10; cf. 1 Cor. 12:7).
In so doing we will be “good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:10).
God’s grace saves and keeps us, and here it grants us spiritual gifts, which, for all their immediate differences, share one ultimate purpose: God’s glory “through Jesus Christ” (v. 11).
Peter chooses two examples. First, speakers are to remember that they have the privilege and responsibility of teaching the very words (oracles) of God, a sobering thought.
Second, those who minister by serving others are to do so in God’s power, not their own. In both cases the purpose is outward, not for the gain of the speaker or server but in order to enhance God’s reputation (v. 11).
• Verse 7: “Be . . . sober-minded.”
• Verse 8: Show sincere “love.”
• Verse 9: “Show hospitality.”
• Verses 10, 11: “Serve one another.”
What a contrast to the kinds of activities mentioned in the verses that precede this text. There Peter listed the kinds of things people give themselves to when they live as if God has no king in the world, no moral authority to uphold, and nothing beyond this life except the reign of eternal darkness.
• They give themselves to “drunkenness” (v. 3) rather than “sober-minded[ ness]” (v. 7).
• They give themselves to “lawless” activity (v. 3) rather than sincere “love” (v. 8).
• They give themselves to “orgies” (v. 3) rather than “show[ing] hospitality” (v. 9).
• They give themselves to “malign[ing]” (v. 4) rather than “serving one another” (vv. 10, 11).
REMINDER: Christ's followers are called to look ahead to eternity and live today like we know where we're headed!
In closing, let’s consider how Christ doesn’t just give strength to the weary who come to him, he tips the scales through his favor toward us, he moves from giving strength to empowering in these ways:
Speaking: He is the truth in the message we are called to proclaim, the only way, truth and life that we might know THE WAY to THE FATHER
Serving: he is the example of a true servant, greatest in His Kingdom!
Gifts - Serve - Steward: He is the embodiment of all of the gifts, he gives freely for us to display his glory through our lives
Hospitality: He is our good Shepherd (Ps. 23) - he brings us to his table to enjoy communion with him until we’re with him forever - as our good shepherd
Love Covering: God is not a forgetful Father, through Christ, God chooses to look at Christ’s finished work on our behalf rather than our ‘good works’ - we can cover minor offenses toward others because of the cosmic covering we’ve received in our relationship with God in Christ Jesus, robes of Righteousness that we now put on.
Self-Controlled / Sober Living: The Fruit of the Spirit can be cultivated in us, even as we give ourselves away to others, because we are being made into the likeness of the one who saved us - Paul reminds Timothy in
...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. - 2 Timothy 1:7
Isn’t this MARVELOUS?!
For the one who takes hold of Peter’s teaching, the old has passed away because fulfillment has come to the law through Christ. Every man or woman who is following Jesus as King now has a choice to make in responding to his salvation and claims on our life as Lord:
- Don’t Look Back / Give Yourself Away (as we learned last week)
- Look Ahead / Live like you know where you’re going
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September 5, 2021Called to Serve Through Love