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Living for God June 17, 2014

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 1 Peter 4:1-11.

Summary: Peter begins by telling his readers that since Christ suffered in their place, they must conform to Him by suffering in their bodies – ceasing from sin. Instead of walking in the ways of impiety, they are living sacrifices entirely offered up to God. Before their conversion, they had conformed to the world by walking in the ways of impiety. Now that they have been saved, they do not pour out their affections on ruinous vanities – and so unbelievers revile them. Yet at the supreme and final judgment, God will call these unbelievers to account for their insults. He also encourages them by reminding them that all deceased believers:

  • were converted at some point
  • ceased from sin after their conversion while enduring the insults of unbelievers
  • are now united to Christ.

Peter then reminds his readers that the supreme and final judgment will soon occur; thus, they should be sober and watchful – enabling them to pray in an acceptable way. Moreover, each of them must:

  • follow their primary duty of strongly seeking the good of others – enabling them to forgive their mutual failings
  • supply the needs of others based on the previous exhortation
  • use their endowments to seek the good of others, as God has given believers a variety of endowments.

Peter concludes with the following exhortations:

  • those who preach the Gospel message must speak wisely and in a holy way
  • deacons must depend on God’s strength when performing their duties

and so their service will be for God’s glory – spurring him to add a doxology to his exhortations.

Thoughts: In verse 9, Peter exhorts his readers to show kindness to fellow peripatetic Christians. Leighton offers some insights on this point:

One practical way to supply the necessities of our brothers is to cut back on our own excesses. Turn the stream into that channel where it will refresh your brothers and enrich yourself, and let it not run into the Dead Sea. Your vain excessive entertainments, your gaudy variety of clothing, these you do not question, for you think they are yours…You are a steward of all your possessions. If you do not share them, you are committing robbery. You are robbing your poor brothers who lack the necessities of life while you lavish on yourself what you do not need.

A quick scan of my e-mail inbox reveals that various entities tug at my purse strings. For example, an online retailer recommends that I purchase a book from their enormous inventory. Also, an airline encourages me to purchase a round-trip fare for a weekend getaway (along with renting a car and booking a hotel, if possible). In addition, my alma mater exhorts me to make a financial gift that will enable a current (or future) student to earn a life-changing diploma. Given all of these demands on my resources, how can I use my money wisely for the kingdom of God? I believe that it is important for Christians to formulate a financial plan so that they can give with a good conscience. This plan should be guided by the following compatible principles:

  • Christians do not need to sell all of their possessions
  • Christians should not be enslaved to their possessions.

In verse 11, Peter exhorts ministers of the Gospel message to preach with great caution. Leighton offers some thoughts on this point:

The Word is to be spoken wisely. By this I mean, it is to be delivered seriously and decently. Flippant remarks and unseemly gestures are to be avoided. You should speak with authority and mildness. Who is sufficient for such things?

I have discovered that during small group meetings, I have a tendency to say the first thing that comes to mind without considering its impact on the other attendees. Interestingly, another attendee has consistently challenged me when I have made unprofitable comments. While I still struggle to accept his criticisms, I have come to see that his primary concern is the spiritual welfare of our small group. This has spurred me to focus on presenting thoughts that can help the other attendees grow closer to God and to each other. Indeed, I have improved in terms of actually thinking through the implications of a particular statement or question before I verbalize it during our meetings. Perhaps this is God’s way of enabling me to tame my tongue, though I certainly have a long way to go in this regard.

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