1 Peter 4:7-11

1 Peter 4:7‑11  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Founded on the Lord's readiness to judge, in all its solemnity for man, is the reminder of the approaching end of all things which now subsist. This is supposed in such an intervention.
“But the end of all things hath drawn nigh. Be discreet therefore and watch (or, be sober) unto prayers,1 and before all things having your love toward each other fervent, for love covereth2 a multitude of sins; hospitable toward one another without murmuring;3 according as each received a gift, ministering it toward each other as good stewards of God's various grace: if one speak, [let it be] as oracles of God; if one ministereth, as of strength which God supplieth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the might unto the ages of the ages. Amen” (vers. 7-11).
The Holy Spirit keeps as constant and proximate, not only the bright hope of the Lord's coming for the saints, but the close of man's day for the earth. The world refuses or ridicules the warning. Even saints forget it as a living word from God for every day; and when mingling with human interests and men's thoughts, get weary, are ashamed of the truth, apologize for or gloss over the words of the Lord and the apostles, so as in effect to say, like the evil bondman in his heart, “My Lord delayeth:” alike the cause and the consequence of growing worldliness. Even watching for executive providence in the meantime undermines and destroys the separating and heart-elevating power of waiting for Christ.
But the word here flowing out of faith in the impending end of all things is, “Be discreet therefore,” that is of sound mind spiritually; “and watch,” or be sober, “unto prayers:” a very different attitude from absorption in the newspaper, and in each exciting movement west or east, so often to fade and disappoint the superficial readers of prophecy. Hope like faith looks to God, expects in patience, and does not make ashamed. The Christian ought never to forget that he is a Christian, and follows the crucified but glorified One, content—yea rejoicing—to endure till we reign together with Him at His appearing and kingdom. It is not our place to thunder and lighten, as those under the law were bound to do, at the revolt of Israel and at the passing enormities of the Gentile powers. When we are translated, it will be for the godly remnant on earth to take up the cry once more, “How long, Sovereign Master the holy and true, dost not thou judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell upon the earth?” Blessed saints will they be, but no more Christians in the full sense than the O.T. saints before us.
The saints now are exhorted to watch unto prayers; as another apostle bade his dear Philippians, with the Lord at hand, be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let their requests be made known unto God. Thus should the peace of God that surpasses all understanding guard their hearts and their thoughts in Christ Jesus. Such is true Christian experience. Still more wide and deep is the word in Eph. 6 where the apostle says “with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication.”
“But before all things” (for it ought in practice to take precedence of all), he adds, “having your love toward each other fervent, because love covereth a multitude of sins” (8): this last clause an application of Prov. 10:1212Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. (Proverbs 10:12). As hatred makes the worst of everything, love is entitled to bury things out of sight; and God endorses it as answering to His own nature. Needless to say that holy discipline retains its needed but sorrowful action.
Next (ver. 9) the apostle would have them, as another form of love, “hospitable unto one another, without murmuring.” Surely grumbling and grudging did not become a holy and a royal priesthood. Practical outgoing of heart in this way promotes fellowship, and strengthens the bonds of grace. It yields a fine contrast to man's selfishness, which seeks its own things, and complains of all else.
Gift too (vers. 10, 11), used according to God, subserves the same end as well as much greater ones, even the perfecting of the saints, for ministerial work, and for building up the body of Christ. But our apostle as usual is eminently direct and practical. “As each received a gift,” they were to minister it toward each other, “as good stewards of God's varied grace.” This is just what human organizing hinders. How sad for saints to sanction any meddling with God's will and ways It is not the right of each that is pleaded, but the obligation from gifts of God to use whatever it be in responsibility to Him. “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:22Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2)) from the greatest to the least: else God's rights are infringed, and His grace is thus far suppressed.
The apostle divides gifts into two general classes, speaking or service otherwise. “If one speak [let it be] as oracles of God.” This does not merely mean according to scripture; which might be misdirected, and thus even do harm; as e.g. encouraging, when reproof was due, or the inverse. Not even a gifted man ought to speak without the assurance of God's mind for the moment and case in hand. How much would be spared, were this divine rule truly felt! Then again, “If one ministereth, as of the strength which God supplieth.” Creature advantages might be a snare on both sides. Even in temporal service, which is thus distinguished from the word, the right strength is that which comes from God, and not human ability, attainment, rank, or wealth. We may compare with this latter “ministry,” “giving,” and “showing mercy” in Rom. 12, and “helps” in 1 Cor. 12. It is remarkable how scripture in this differs, as usual, from the thoughts and language of Christendom. For so ignored is scripture, even by men zealous in dispensing it in all possible versions throughout the world, that they confine “ministry” to public speaking, and never consider that God thus dignifies all real service which is not of that oral character.
But “gifts” in either way are so designated by inspiration; and their free and holy exercise claimed as coming from such a donor; “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is (not merely “be”) the glory and the might unto the ages of the ages. Amen.” For thus the fervent spirit of the apostle poured itself out, as he wrote these things to the saints in Asia Minor; and God has kept them for us also.