And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
As every man (every believer) hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
If (or more literally ‘when’) any man (believer) speak, let him (or her) speak as the oracles of God; if any man (believer) minister, let him (or her) do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.’
1 Peter 4: 7-11 KJV. [Note: remarks in brackets are added by the writer.]
Please note that Peter lists five things we should be focused on as we see the ‘end of all things’ come to ‘hand’ (I.e. become a present reality). There are others, but these have a high priority in the context of Peter’s remarks here in this epistle/letter.
1. To be ‘sober’,v7: Literally ‘to be of a ‘sound and mind and self-controlled’. In other words, we are to be sensible and responsible in our approach to life and to maintain ‘self-control’ in all things. Note that ‘self-control’ is a fruit (an evidence) of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Any loss of self-control is never, under any circumstances, an evidence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the true Bible believing follower of the Lord Jesus. Sensible, rational behaviour, particularly under difficult or stressful conditions, such as those we can expect in the end of the age, should be a hall mark of every Spirit-filled believer.
2. To be constantly in communion with the Lord in our inner being and ‘Watch unto prayer’, v7. We desperately need to be ‘watching’, i.e. Being focused within our spirit towards the Lord. This, I believe, means to be inwardly communing with the Lord constantly within our inner being. This will, and must include, times when we shut ourselves away with the Lord so that ‘He who sees’ us praying ‘in secret’ may ‘reward openly’. Matthew 6:6. The Lord Jesus stressed this as a major focus in the life of the believer for the last days in Luke 21:36, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man”. See also 1 Thess 5:17 where Paul says very clearly, ‘Pray without ceasing’.
3. Practice ‘love’ for one another, v8. Note the force of Peter’s words here, ‘ABOVE ALL THINGS have FERVENT charity among yourselves...’ The word translated in the KJV as ‘fervent’ means literally, ‘intent, earnest and, assiduous’. The word for ‘love’ is, of course, ‘agape’, which is literally, ‘love, affection, good will and, benevolence’. Note as well that this is to be focused especially towards ‘one another’. I.e. towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.
4. Hospitality, v9: We are to ‘use’ this ‘one to another’, and, interestingly, Peter says, to do this ‘without grudging’.
5. To Minister to ‘one another’ the ‘gift’ the Lord has given us, v10-11. I am fully convinced in my own mind that this ‘gift’ is the unique manifestation(s) of the Holy Spirit resident in the heart and life of every believer. They are the particular expressions of the grace and character of the Lord Jesus that are to be found in every single believer. These will find many forms of expression, but, I believe the next remark by Peter indicates clearly that one primary form will be the things we say to encourage one another and, in particular, when we meet and share in fellowship together. In other words, when we meet and share together, seek to be conscious in a special way that the Holy Spirit is speaking to each of us through the lips of each one present. Further, our motive in sharing is to glorify God in ALL things. This, again, gives a very special focus to the gathering of the Lord’s people in simple fellowship. These are the times when the Lord Jesus, the Head of the Body, the ekklesia (the ‘out called’ ones) by the Holy Spirit, seeks to ‘edify’, build up, encourage and comfort, His body. He does this through the lips and presence of every single believer –NOT just a select one or two. For this reason I believe 1 Peter 4:10 is yet another wonderful passage of scripture that teaches the ‘self-edification of the body by the body’. It is the practical expression of Matthew 16:18, ‘...I will edify my out-called ones’, (I will build my church –KJV). It is for this reason that we seek to encourage everyone present to bring something to bless the body as we gather together. Again, it makes what we seek to practice in our fellowship together so very special –and even, in may ways, unique. It is possible to sit in many ‘churches’ and be lectured by paid professional speakers, something which I argue is simply not found in the New Testament. There are times of teaching by those gifted in this way by the Lord, such as when Paul taught (or disputed) in the 'school of Tyrannus'. Acts 19:9. However, what we are speaking of here is the gatherings of the Lord's people in those regular and frequent times of fellowship when the followers of the Lord Jesus gather to share together around the Word and to obey the Lord in the Breaking of Bread. What is found in the entire New Testament, is this wonderful reality of Christ, the living Head, ministering to his body through the lips of every believer present. So, take Peter’s exhortation to heart and seek to ‘speak as the oracles of God’ and to do it with the ‘ability’ that God ‘gives’ to every believer who seeks to yield his or herself to the Holy Spirit for this purpose. Be a participant, not a spectator! Remember, ‘You may all speak (KJV ‘prophesy’, Gk, ‘propheteuo’, lit: to speak forth by inspiration) one by one that all may learn and all may be comforted (edified/built up and encouraged). 1 Corinthians 14:31.
Let us seek to practice 1 Peter 4:7-11 more and more in these days in which we live.