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In the Name of the Father, and (+) of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
1 Peter 4:7-11
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 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.
Devotion by Dr. Paul E. Kretzmann
The apostle here guards against the danger of a false security which may follow his comforting assurances in the case of such as misunderstand the meaning of Christian liberty: But the end of all things has come near; be sensible, then, and vigilant toward prayer. As sure as redemption has been earned and salvation is ready for all men, as sure as the Judge of the living and the dead is prepared for the final Judgment and the apparent delay is only another gracious measure on His part to call men to repentance, so sure it is that the end of all things, of that which we commonly designate as heaven and earth, the visible world, is near.
This consideration of the nearness of the end is a strong motive for the Christians to exert all diligence in using the time allotted them in the proper way. Their entire conduct should be one that agrees with sound Christian common sense, with that sober-mindedness which should be the strongest characteristic of the children of God. They must put aside all spiritual drowsiness and be wide awake, vigilant, with regard to prayer. In view of the nearness of the end they will be particularly diligent in their intercourse with their heavenly Father, lest the dangers and tribulations of the latter days overcome them. All the cares, joys, and sorrows of life must not be permitted to interfere with their relation toward God.
The conduct of the Christians toward their neighbors must likewise be in line with these considerations: Above all, have the love toward one another fervent, for love covers a mass of sins. That the apostle stresses this point with such emphasis may easily be understood, especially in view of the conditions as they now obtain in the world. Such is the power of selfishness in these last days that the idea of unselfish altruism, of true love, has practically been lost. It is talked about very extensively, even in the relation of states and nations toward one another, but is practiced very little.
Therefore, all true Christians should distinguish themselves by making the love which they profess to feel an intense, an assiduous, a fervent, a real love, without a trace of selfishness, having only the welfare of their brother in mind. It is this love which is ready to cover and forget even a mass of sins, a feat which would not be possible if their love were of a kind that does not stand tests. Thus love preserves brotherly harmony and unity. It is not a question of magnanimously overlooking one or two little faults, but of forgiving even a multitude of sins, and in forgiving to forget them.
Another proof of this love is indicated in the words: Be hospitable toward each other without murmuring. This was necessary even more in those days of oppression and persecution than it is today, at least in our country. But as recent events abroad show, the time may well come also in this country when oppression will come upon us, making it necessary for us to open our homes to such as have been driven from their homes by persecution. But in any event Christians will be ready to show true hospitality, to receive their brethren and sisters with open arms whenever there is need of it. They will do this, moreover, not with an unwilling murmuring, but with a cordiality flowing out of true love.
A third admonition concerns the work in the congregation: Everyone as he has received a gift of grace, - serve one another therewith, as good stewards of the various graces of God. Mark that the apostle expressly states that every Christian has received some gift of grace, some talent which he should employ in the service of the congregation, of the Church of the Lord. Whether this gift is one of preaching, or of teaching, or of praying, or of exhorting, or of organizing, it should be exercised by the Christian. No talent may be hidden away in the ground for specious reasons. But these gifts are not our own to use as we choose, especially not for selfish purposes, for the advancement of various ambitious schemes. In receiving gifts from God, we have become stewards of God, we are responsible to Him; our gifts, according to His will, should be exercised in serving one another, in proving ourselves useful in the work which we are carrying on at God’s command, to the praise and honor of God and to the benefit and salvation of our neighbor.
Two of such special gifts of grace, of the Holy Spirit, the apostle names: if any one speaks, let him do so as he who utters the words of God; if any one ministers, let him do so as out of the strength which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power forever and ever, Amen. If anyone has received the gift of speaking, if he holds an office in which he is to declare the oracles of God, Rom. 12, 6; Num. 24, 4, he should adhere strictly to these revelations of God as they are contained in His inspired Word. For any man to proclaim himself a Christian teacher and then to preach his own human speculations, or only that which he chooses to consider true in the Bible, is an insult to the Lord. All frivolous handling of the Word also, as when a Christian teacher forgets the dignity of the subject which he is laying before the congregation, cannot be excused on any grounds. In a similar way those that are engaged in ministering, in almsgiving, in taking care of the poor and needy, in assisting in the work of Christian hospitals and hospices, in short, all Christians, as they take part in the work of charity carried on in their midst, should remember that it is, in the last analysis, the work of the Lord which they are doing as His stewards.
They will, then, certainly not depend upon their own strength nor seek to further any private schemes in their work, nor will they permit their hands to be idle while there is so much work to do. That gift, that power which God has granted them, and which He wants to continue to supply, they are to use energetically, consistently. It is, in other words, the faithful, conscientious employment of the gifts which God has given to a Christian which he desires from every one of them. And the final aim and purpose will always be that God's name may be glorified among men more and more. For it is from Him, as the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that we have received faith and the fruit of faith, and thus also the power to praise and magnify His holy name through the works which we perform in the building and maintaining of His kingdom. The power of God becomes operative through Jesus Christ, to whom we give all praise and power in all eternity. 6)
O Lord, so rule and govern our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that, ever mindful of the end of all things and the day of Your just judgment, we may be stirred up to holiness of living here and dwell with You forever hereafter; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
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