Scripture: 1 Peter 4:7-11
7 The end of everything has come. Therefore, be self-controlled and clearheaded so you can pray. 8 Above all, show sincere love to each other, because love brings about the forgiveness of many sins. 9 Open your homes to each other without complaining. 10 And serve each other according to the gift each person has received, as good managers of God’s diverse gifts. 11 Whoever speaks should do so as those who speak God’s word. Whoever serves should do so from the strength that God furnishes. Do this so that in everything God may be honored through Jesus Christ. To him be honor and power forever and always. Amen.
Theme- The Christian life makes a priority of serving one another
- What does the phrase “the end of everything” mean in v7?
- Verses 9 & 10 link the ideas of hospitality and service, can the church learn anything from the hospitality or service industries about how we are to treat people?
- How do we discover the gifts God has given us so we can use them to serve others?
- How does speaking God’s word relate to service and hospitality?
- How is God honored through our service to one another?
“The end of everything” does not refer to the completion or termination of everything but the goal of everything. In Jesus creation has reached it’s the aim of its created purpose.
Peter shifts attention from the believer’s conduct in suffering to the believer’s conduct within the church. This section is marked by a concern for unity, as evidenced by self-control (4:7), love (4:8), hospitality (4:9), and proper use of gifs (4:10–11).
If you receive your neighbor as though he were Christ, you will not complain or feel embarrassed but rather rejoice in your service. But if you do not receive him as if he were Christ, you will not receive Christ either, because he said: “Whoever receives you, receives me.”8 If you do not show hospitality in this way, you will have no reward. Abraham received passers-by and travelers just as they were. He did not leave them to his servants. On the contrary, he ordered his wife to bring flour, even though he had domestic help. But he and his wife wanted to earn the blessing, not only of hospitality but of service also. This is how we ought to show hospitality, by doing all the work ourselves, so that we may be sanctified. -John Chrysostom
“The end has come” when we hear that phrase our immediate reaction is to think of death or finality. Our culture has trained us to think about ending in terms of conclusions, but Peter wants us to focus on “the end” as the goal or climax. He is telling us that in Jesus we have reached the climax of history, in which human society can finally live up to the purposes for which God created us. This brief paragraph is a representation of the new world created in Jesus and the goal of human life in this world. We are therefore supposed to mediate on the life that Peter presents and reflect on how we are to live it out in community. Peter reminds us that this new community is built on loving one another, because loving one another brings healing (what Peter is talking about in “forgiveness of many sins”). In our culture the imagery of “hiding” and “concealing” are very negative (Church scandals have not helped this fact), but what Peter means is that loving people buries our sins like the Egyptian army in Exodus. We might be closer to the imagery Peter has in mind saying, “love buries many sins” not in a sense of hiding but because the sins are dead. But Peter does not simply leave it to us to decide what it means to show love to one another, he provides us a helpful definition which can be summed up in two words, “hospitality” and “service”.
The concept of hospitality is built around the concept of showing love to a stranger, it is opening up one’s home to a person as they need “And akin to love is hospitality, being a congenial art devoted to the treatment of strangers.” The prime example of this is in Genesis 19 where Lot opens his home to strangers in need and the people of Sodom are ultimately destroyed for their desire to harm those strangers. Peter weaves the root of phila (think Philadelphia) throughout the book and what he wants us to takeaway is that the goal of the church is to be a community that is committed to making strangers into family. This is a common theme in the hospitality industry, look at hotel ads where they want to make visitors feel like they are staying with family. Their brand is about being accommodating to those who are staying there, going out of their way to take care of people. Now, Christians should recognize the immediate tensions involved in our own hospitality; to apply the metaphor further, being part of the Church means that sometimes you are the guest and sometimes the staff and the goal is to spend an appropriate amount of time in each category. But the reality still remains that our community is based on making people feel welcomed and loved; to that end we serve, we each get immersed in the work of the church as our gifts allow us. Peter is telling us that each person should be asking “where can I serve the Church”, yet estimates tell us that half or less of people who regularly attend worship actively serve the congregation.
Peter reminds us that service to the Church is a key element of loving both God and neighbor, he doesn’t require any particular service but only as we are able. Peter is making a point about our willingness to serve, part of being a Christian is to care so much about showing love to our community that we are consistently looking for ways to serve our Church. Service is one of the easiest ways for Christians to show love for one another, it is taking a small burden from another person. We are called to help with each other’s burdens and one of the easiest ways to deo this is to serve people in their physical needs. The bonds created as we serve one another will be a spotlight to the community around us, reflecting Christ’s love for the world.
 Douglas Mangum, ed., Lexham Context Commentary: New Testament, Lexham Context Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020), 1 Pe 4:7–11.
8 Mt 10:40.
 Gerald Bray, ed., James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 117.
 The same word translated “forgiveness” in v8 is used in Exodus 14 & 15 about the Egyptian army being covered “washed away” by the sea.
 Clement of Alexandria Stromata 2.9
Wesley, I appreciate the work you are putting into your messages. I especially like the questions, and I try to ponder them before I read on.
Today this struck me: “Peter is telling us that each person should be asking ‘where can I serve the Church’, yet estimates tell us that half or less of people who regularly attend worship actively serve the congregation.”
I appreciate that you used “church” initially and then used “congregation.” And I don’t disagree with you at all. I only wonder though, if the data derived and mentioned in the last half is actually accurate.
I find myself remembering that there was a very specific list of ways to “serve” in my last church: children’s ministries, parking lot, greeters, communion, etc. and while those are necessary to the institution most of the time, there are so many other needs that people have: older people could use companions, meals, and drivers; younger people might need tutors; mothers maybe need babysitters, etc., and so often the church only discusses what the institution needs to accomplish Sunday and Wednesday.
I wonder if the “estimates” you mention take these other acts of service into account — If they are happening. I hope they are happening. Often people in leadership may not even know though. Just a thought.
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To be honest I doubt those estimates actually consider those (which makes them great scare tactics). You are exactly right, there is more to service than formal ministries, and more to it than I mentioned. Thanks for the encouragement and the helpful critique.