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1 Peter 4 Part 3: Love, Hospitality and Gifts
1 Peter 4:8-11; Romans 12:4-8 - Be fervent in love, be cheerfully hospitable and learn about your spiritual gifts.
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 4:8-11 NASB1995
Peter continues to speak of those things that believers should do as if the end times were upon us (and they could indeed be imminent, but only God knows the time). First, Peter tells us to keep fervent in our love for one another. Love in this case is agape love (affection, benevolence, brotherly love). But let’s look a little deeper at the word fervent - this word comes from the Greek word ἐκτενής or ektenes, which means
metaphorical: intent, earnestly, assiduously
Our love is to be constant and earnest, stretched out over others, like the wings of an angel (a nice analogy). Here’s a great description of this love from Precept Austin:
Christian love is something we have to work at, just the way an athlete works on his skills. It is not a matter of emotional feeling, though that is included, but of dedicated will. Christian love means that we treat others the way God treats us, obeying His commandments in the Word. It is even possible to love people that we do not like!
This kind of love requires the Christian to put another’s spiritual good ahead of his own desires in spite of being treated unkindly, ungraciously, or even with hostility. This kind of love is not blind to a brother or sister's faults but sees them and accepts them. Such a love will not publicize the faults and failings of other believers, but will protect them from public view.
Someone has said "Hatred makes the worst of everything. Love is entitled to bury things out of sight."
This love covers a multitude of sins, in that it forgives and moves on rather than viewing everything with suspicion, squabbling over legalisms or broadcasting the faults of others.
This Christian love also requires hospitality. I was thinking about that today when researching this and realized that since our families are pretty much gone (deceased) or live elsewhere, we have not had guests in our home for a long, long time. We have rarely had overnight guests and that was usually limited to immediate family members during a rare visit or time of crisis. When we see friends, we usually meet at a restaurant rather than have them over to our house. The excuses sound something like this:
We would have to clean the house thoroughly instead of doing the few things needed to pass muster with our pet sitter or to keep us from screaming at the dust.
We might have to repair some things that are in need of repair or replace some things.
It costs a lot to buy groceries and take the time to cook for others.
What if we cook something they don’t like?
Our cats are annoying (curious) and someone might be allergic.
We can never coordinate schedules for everyone.
We’re not good at small talk and might offend someone.
We like our privacy and our house doesn’t lend itself well to overnight guests.
So practicing hospitality, much less doing it without complaining and grumbling, is a challenge! David Guzik quotes D. Edmond Hiebert in his commentary on this aspect of Christian love:
“‘Without grumbling’ is a frank recognition that the practice of hospitality could become costly, burdensome, and irritating. The Greek term denotes a muttering or low speaking as a sign of displeasure. It depicts a spirit that is the opposite of cheerfulness.”
It’s past time for us to dismantle the excuse list, stop the grumbling and start learning true Christian hospitality again! Something to pray for…
Peter then exhorts us to use our special spiritual gifts to be good stewards of the manifold Grace of God. He doesn’t go into great detail on these gifts, talking mostly about speaking and serving. Paul has more details about these spiritual gifts in Romans 12:
“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
Romans 12:4-8 NASB1995
I guess you could say that we both have gifts for teaching or at least for writing our thoughts about belief through these devotionals; I used to do a lot of teaching at work on various subjects and enjoyed it very much and also did a lot of writing. Steve was a professional writer for years and did a lot of teaching, too, over his career and was superb. So I searched on-line and there are a multitude of tests and evaluations out there to tell you about your top gifts. At this Link, I did a free 45-question analysis and here are the results:
You are a Light Giver in the Kingdom
Your contribution to the ministry of God is to make the truth and knowledge about God accessible to all. You have an anointing for breaking confusion and misinformation. You are strategic in helping people know the truth of God and also how it applies to their own life. You have a unique gifting that is essential to the ministry of God.
Well, what do you know? This analysis worked pretty well! Below the prayer I’ve included some of the other details from this analysis. We also give a lot financially to ministries that we support and to our church, because it is God’s money first, not ours. He returns our giving with an overflow of abundance! But is giving a spiritual gift, or do we use that as a way to contribute without having to be too involved? That’s a thought-provoking question!
A word of caution: These on-line assessments are merely a starting point for discovering your gifts. This Article on logos.com has great advice for learning your gifts and I especially love this piece of advice that they included in the article from a book entitled “The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts”:
If we spend less time searching to identify our spiritual gift(s) and more time actually praying and giving and helping and teaching and serving and exhorting those around us, the likelihood greatly increases that we will walk headlong into our gifting without ever knowing what happened. God will more likely meet us with His gifts in the midst of trying to help His children than He ever would while we’re taking a spiritual gifts analysis test. . . . So, look for a need and meet it. Find a hurt and heal it. Be alert to the cry for help and answer it. Listen for the voice of God and speak it. Identify someone’s weakness and overcome it. Look for what’s missing and supply it. When you do, the power of God—the energizing, enabling, charismatic activity of the Holy Spirit—will equip you, perhaps only once, but possibly forever, to minister hope and encouragement to those in need. So, if you’re still wondering what your gift(s) might be, act first and ask later.
Anything we do, do it to glorify God through Jesus Christ!
My next devotional examines 1 Peter 4:12-14 Rejoicing in Fiery Ordeals
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord: Please help me STRETCH my love for others so that I can cover a multitude of sins and shortcomings. Help Steve and I to develop our hospitality skills for our friends and for other believers. Help me to hone and improve my spiritual gifts and to use them to glorify you through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
More from my gift assessment:
You are curious for deeper understanding, learning and revelation.
You are able to explain complex ideas and concepts in ways people understand.
You are the type that will search and research what you don’t understand.
You are interested in topics some other people find very boring.
You feel like you can see situations clearly and provide clear answers.
You feel like you never stop learning.
The opportunity to share my perspective excites you.
You can feel frustrated when others don’t have the same hunger to learn like you.
Lies are never challenged.
People lives never embody the scriptures.
People don’t understand why they should change.
People are bored with the Bible.
People are not curious and hungry to read the Bible.
The Vision for the Teacher
Every person can know God’s truth. Every person can be able to understand the Bible. Every person can know how to apply the truth of God to their life.
As you dream, pray and plan, ask yourselves these questions:
How do we best accomplish spreading the truth of God?
How do we best stir curiosity and desire for the scriptures?
How do we best help know how to apply the Bible to their life?
How do we best make complex and confusing topics clear?
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
Commentary from Enduring Word by David Guzik is used with written permission.