A Christlike Atitude

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I. A Patient Attitude toward the Lost (1 Peter 4:4–6)
4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
A. We must be patient toward the lost.
Unsaved people are blind to spiritual truth and dead to spiritual enjoyment. In fact, our contact with the lost is important to them since we are the bearers of the truth that they need. When unsaved friends attack us, this is our opportunity to witness to them.
The unsaved may judge us, but one day, God will judge them. Instead of arguing with them, we should pray for them, knowing that the final judgment is with God. This was the attitude that the Apostle Paul took, and also Jesus.
B. We must not interpret verse 6 apart from the context of suffering.
Don’t be mistaken and get the idea that there is a second chance for salvation after death. Peter was reminding his readers of the Christians who had been martyred for their faith. They had been falsely judged by men, but now, in the presence of God, they received their true judgment. “Them that are dead” means “them that are now dead” at the time Peter was writing. The Gospel is preached only to the living because there is no opportunity for salvation after death.
Unsaved people may speak evil of us and even oppose us, but the final Judge is God. We may sacrifice our lives in the midst of persecution, but God will honor and reward us. We must fear God and not men. While we are in these human bodies (“in the flesh”), we are judged by human standards. One day, we shall be with the Lord (“in the spirit”) and receive the true and final judgment.
II. An Expectant Attitude toward Christ (1 Peter 4:7)
7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.
A. Christians in the early church expected Jesus to return in their lifetime.
The fact that He has not returned does not invalidate His promise. No matter what interpretation we give to the prophetic Scriptures, we must all live in expectancy. The important thing is that we shall see the Lord one day and stand before Him.
How we live and serve today will determine how we are judged and rewarded on that day. This attitude of expectancy must not turn us into lazy dreamers or zealous fanatics.
B. Be Serious.
The phrase “be serious and some versions say be sober” means “be sober-minded, keep your mind steady and clear.” Perhaps a modern equivalent would be “keep cool.” It was a warning against wild thinking about prophecy that could lead to an unbalanced life and ministry. Often we hear of sincere people who go “off balance” because of an unbiblical emphasis on prophecy or a misinterpretation of prophecy. There are people who set dates for Christ’s return, contrary to His warning, or they claim to know the name of the beast of Revelation 13. I have books in my library, written by sincere and godly men, in which all sorts of claims are made, only to the embarrassment of the writers.
I am not suggesting that we not study prophecy, or that we become timid about sharing our interpretations. What I am suggesting is that we not allow ourselves to get out of balance because of an abuse of prophecy. There is a practical application to the prophetic Scriptures. An expectant attitude toward Christ’s return involves a serious, balanced mind and an alert, awake prayer life. The test of our commitment to the doctrine of Christ’s return is not our ability to draw charts or discern signs, but our thinking and praying. If our thinking and praying are right, our living should be right.
III. A Fervent Attitude toward the Saints (1 Peter 4:8–11)
8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
A. This love should be fervent, and forgiving.
Love does not condone sin; for, if we love somebody, we will be grieved to see them sin and hurt themselves and others. Rather, love covers sin in that love motivates us to hide the sin from others and not spread it abroad. Where there is hatred, there is malice; and malice causes a person to want to tear down the reputation of his enemy. This leads to gossip and slander.
No one can hide their sins from God, but believers ought to try, in love, to cover each other’s sins at least from the eyes of the unsaved. After all, if the unsaved crowd finds ammunition for persecuting us because of our good words and works (1 Peter 2:19–20; 3:14), what would they do if they knew the bad things that Christians say and do!
B. Our Christian love should not only be fervent and forgiving, but it should also be practical.
We should share our homes with others in generous hospitality, and we should use our spiritual gifts in ministry to one another. In New Testament times hospitality was an important thing, because there were few inns and poor Christians could not afford to stay at them anyway. Persecuted saints in particular would need places to stay where they could be assisted and encouraged.
Christian love must result in service. Each Christian has at least one spiritual gift that we must use to the glory of God and the building up of the church. We are stewards. God has entrusted these gifts to us that we might use them for the good of His church. He even gives us the spiritual ability to develop our gifts and be faithful servants of the church.
There are speaking gifts and there are serving gifts, and both are important to the church. Not everybody is a teacher or preacher, though all can be witnesses for Christ. There are those “behind-the-scenes” ministries that help to make the public ministries possible. God gives us the gifts, the abilities, and the opportunities to use the gifts, and He alone must get the glory. How long is “the rest of your time”? Only God knows.
Don’t waste it! Invest it by doing the will of God.
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