Gifted to Serve One Another
Reflecting on this Month’s Memory Verse
If you knew that the end of all things was right around the corner, how would you advise your fellow believers? As we reflect on our memory verse for this month, I think it fitting to consider Peter’s counsel.
When Peter wrote his first epistle, he wrote to a church of struggling believers. Whatever the nature of their struggles, they were “grieved by various trials.” Peter wrote to encourage these disheartened believers to set their minds on the coming fulfillment of God’s promises, and to live virtuously before the Lord and others as they await that glorious time.
Peter recognized that the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ was imminent—“the end of all things is at hand.” He knew that Christ could return at any time, and he wanted to motivate the saints to action. So, in 1 Peter 4:8-11, he directed them in how they ought to relate to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Peter could think of nothing more critical for these believers than god-glorifying service to one another. Our memory verse this month is part of that exhortation. As we meditate on verses 10-11 this month, let me offer a few of my personal observations.
1. Each has received a gift This may seem like a no brainer, but it is imperative that we understand this truth. Though every person on earth is blessed with talents and gifts in some sense, and that wholly by the grace of God, God has especially bestowed grace upon believers in the form of spiritual gifts. This means that EVERY believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has gifts which are given by God as a special act of grace. No believer is deprived of this grace, and no believer is superior to others because of the nature or quantity of his/her gifts.
2. Good stewards Our gifts were given for one very specific task—to serve others! By using them as they were intended, we are acting as good stewards of God’s grace. A steward is someone who has been tasked with supervising that which they have been entrusted with. If a steward was trusted with the task of keeping the books, their performance evaluation would be based upon how well they accomplished that task. The same is true of the way we use the resources and gifts at our disposal. God has entrusted us graciously with the resources to serve others. Our stewardship can only be called good if we use them to accomplish that task.
3. God’s varied grace. I want to focus on the word “varied” for a second. God’s gracious bestowment of gifts is not a package system. There are not bronze, silver, and gold packages, each with the same collection of resources. The way God distributes his grace in the form of gifts to each person is unique. We are not judged by how we use the gifts of others, or by how many gifts we were given. Our judgement will come by evaluating the quality of our stewardship in regard to the unique resources that God provided us with (see Matt. 25:14-30).
4. Whoever speaks… whoever serves… Peter certainly doesn’t intend to jam all categories of gifts into these two categories. Rather, he is providing practical examples that demonstrate how believers can use their gifts. For those gifted in speaking/teaching, let them take care to speak as though God’s word were spoken through them. For those gifted in service/hospitality, let them serve not in their own strength, but let them toil fully dependent on God’s strength to serve others better. The point is that whatever areas we are gifted in, we should devote those gifts wholly and seriously to the service of others.
5. In order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. Just as we have a task as stewards of these divine graces, so also we have a purpose in accomplishing that task, the glory of our God. If our service is done apart from this goal, it is with incorrect motive. Peter wants believers to serve others because they love God and seek his glory (see Matt 22:35-40), not to check the box and say, “I accomplished something.” God is worthy of our glory, and our love for him should drive us to pursue his glory in everything we do.
To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.