1 Peter 4:7-11
Every Christian has a unique calling from God.
We are all called to serve one another as we serve the Lord Jesus Christ, despite the fact that our professions may differ.
The Bible teaches that every member of the church is a minister, despite the fact that occasionally people assume that only the pastor is responsible for serving the church.
God has called each and every one of us to serve in ministry.
All of us have been given the grace to serve as Jesus Christ's ministers and are called to do so.
We are the ones who must carry out our calling to minister to one another; the world will not edify or encourage Christians in their service.
Our text's verse 7 establishes the passage's context.
"The end of all things is at hand," Peter says.
He urges his readers to live in light of the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Living in constant expectation of Christ's imminent return is one of the incentives for living a godly life.
According to the Bible, there will be difficult times before Jesus Christ makes good on His promise to return.
In fact, the book of 1 Peter makes clear that the early church faced numerous challenges.
First Peter was most likely written in the years 63 and 64 AD.
During that period, Rome was nearly completely destroyed by a massive fire that raged for a week in the city.
The Christians were blamed for the fire by the emperor Nero, who also started persecuting the church ferociously.
Tacitus, a historian from the first century, described this particular time period for Christians in the following way: "Therefore, first those were seized who admitted their faith, and then, using the information they provided, a great many were convicted, not so much for the crime of burning the city, but for hatred of the human race."
Additionally, they were sacrificed for entertainment, burned, nailed to crosses, or used as midnight lamps after the sun had set.
They were slain by dogs by having animal hides attached to them.
At least fifteen times in his brief epistle, Peter alluded to the persecution the church was experiencing, most notably when he spoke of the "fiery trial" they would experience, referring to the official persecution from the Roman Empire.
Peter exhorted the congregation to minister to one another in the midst of such difficulties.
These first-century believers would need to receive encouragement from the church if they were to receive any encouragement at all.
Despite the differences in our circumstances, the truth remains the same.
God intended for the local church to serve as a hub for mutual spiritual support.
How then do we serve one another?
This passage outlines three ways:
I. Minister in Love
Ministry starts with who we are, not with what we do.
As Christians, we are called to minister to one another in love.
It is to come from within and make a difference without.
We ought to minister in a love that is fervent.
Verse 8 says, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”
The word fervent means “stretched out, earnest, intent, or constant.”
An intensely loving spirit for the Lord and for one another is a trait of a church that is serving its purpose.
We have a tendency to become self-centered.
Even attending church can quickly become centered around what we gain from it.
However, God commands His followers to reach out to one another in love and encouragement.
Love is big-hearted; arrogance is big-headed.
Sometimes when we attend church, we do it to see what we can gain from it.
What are ways we can look for opportunity to show love to others at church?
Use your gifts and talents for others
Care for kids, help parents with their children.
Pay someone’s bill
Make get well cards
look for opportunities to show love
Start with your own family!
Warren Wiersbe said the following about this word fervent: “The word pictures an athlete straining to reach the goal.
It speaks of eagerness and intensity.
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.”
The love in which we minister is spread across a family of believers.
Look at verse 8, take note of the word "among yourself."
It is simple for us to discuss and think about love, but as Christians, we should actively practice showing love for one another in everything we do.
Nobody attends church to hear the faults and grievances of the world—we can hear those elsewhere!
But people do come to be loved.
The love that we minister in is not only passionate, but also positive.
"For charity shall cover the multitude of sins," verse 8 states.
The word cover means “to hide, or to hinder the knowledge of a thing.”
This is not to mean that you should ignore or refuse to correct someone you care about if they do something wrong.
It does imply that when you love someone, you don't intentionally point out all of their flaws.
It implies that you avoid escalating little irritations into major problems.
And it implies that by extending forgiveness and restitution, you cover up sin that has already been forgiven by God.
True love does deal with sin, but once it is dealt with and forgiveness is given, the sin is covered.
Resentment is careful to keep books, but love keeps no books.
Aren’t you thankful that God does not keep tabs on our sin?
As far as the east is from the west, He has removed our sins and no longer holds a record of it.
And He tells us that when we love each other with a Christlike love, that love will cover a multitude of sin.
Can we love God and others enough to let certain things go, or do we need to win every fight?
When our sin has been dealt with before the Lord, Christ’s love covers it, and we can go on doing the work of the Lord.
Love covers, and it heals.
True love ministers to one another in a way nothing else can.
I. Minister in Love
Minister with Hospitality
Besides ministering in love, we should also minister with hospitality.
Hospitality is a form of natural love.
A great church ought to be one that is given to hospitality.
All of us— not just the pastor or care group leader—should have a spirit of hospitality one to another.
A. The Tool of Hospitality
In verse 9, the Bible says to “use hospitality,” which means to be “loving to guests or strangers.”
Hospitality is like a tool.
It works to open hearts for both fellowship (with one another) as well as to the gospel (with unbelievers).
In New Testament times, hospitality was important because there were few inns and poor Christians could not afford to stay in them.
Persecuted saints in particular needed a place to stay where they could be assisted and encouraged.
Often, when Christians would come through a town, they would find lodging with another Christian.
That was just the way it was.
People were ready to bear one another’s burdens.
As archaeologists have excavated homes in the ancient city of Ephesus, they have found a particular carving with ichthys (ĭkthĭs) chiseled into stone.
The early Christians would put this stone at the front of their doorstep.
It was a combination of Greek letters, which was an acrostic standing for the Greek rendering of “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Saviour.”
The Christians in Ephesus used it to announce to others in that pagan city, “We believe that Jesus Christ is God, and He is our Saviour.”
It was a silent expression to every guest who came into their home, as well as to the children who lived in the home, that this was a place where people followed Christ.
Hospitality is so significant that Paul gives it as a requirement for pastors in both Timothy and Titus.
But hospitality is not limited to only those with a full-time ministry job.
Every Christian should care for others through loving hospitality.