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: 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.

Language is a funny thing. We a word in one situation to talk about one thing. We can use the same word in another situation to talk about something completely different. Think about the various meanings we have for the word, “ball.”

  • Round thing that you can throw

  • A fancy dance

  • Something that’s fun: “have a ball”

  • A pitch that isn’t a strike

  • A game that uses a ball “play ball”

  • We can ball up our clothes

  • The balls of our feet

Isn’t it amazing that the same letters can refer to so many different things?

The church does this, too. In 1 Peter, the apostle uses the same word for “gift” and for “grace.” It’s the same word, but he uses it in two different, but related ways. In parts of 1 Peter, he talks about grace the same way we usually do. Grace is God’s free gift of favor through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Grace is the gospel message, that Jesus died and rose to save you. God gives this grace the same way to all believers.

Peter also uses grace to refer to varied gifts and abilities that God gives individuals in his church. As God’s grace comes to us, it sprouts into a variety of flowers, each with its own characteristics. Peter mentions a few in our reading: hospitality, speaking, and service. We see others in Paul’s letters, too. He calls on us to use these gifts to serve one another.

God calls his church on a mission, and he gives his church the abilities we need to do it. Each person who receives his grace receives also good gifts for service in the church and the world.

How should we use it? Peter tells us to be sober-minded. That is, to be clear-headed. He wants his people to avoid passions that cloud the mind and cause us to make bad decisions. The Christian Church in America is clouded by a culture of loss. We look back to a supposed golden age, and we wish we could get it back. We wish we could build a church, open the doors, and watch it fill to the brim. We wish our communities remained stable like they were 50 years ago. We wish we could offer the same programs. But we can’t get it back. Loss and fear clouds our judgment so we can’t see the opportunities God gives us now.

Listen to hear more.