Read 1 Peter 4
Living for God
4 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Suffering for Being a Christian
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
This is a letter to a people under persecution. In 4:19, we actually get a summary of the letter as a whole, “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” This verse can be confusing without the context of the rest of the letter. What does it mean that some should “suffer according to God’s will”? What does it look like to commit oneself to God? What does doing good look like?
First, we look at “those who suffer according to God’s will.” Why would God want someone to suffer? It’s not that He enjoys our suffering, Scripture is clear that He doesn’t enjoy it at all, but rather He calls His chosen people to endure the trials of this world. Why? Because He uses this as a moment in which we can grow to be more like Christ. This is a message of hope to those enduring violent persecution and social rejection: Christ was also persecuted and rejected, so we can rejoice when we’re counted with Him.
Next, we look to “commit [ourselves] to [our] faithful Creator.” Because of Christ’s sufferings, we can and must “arm [ourselves] with the same attitude,” as Jesus. This means being done with sin. To clarify, being done here doesn’t mean to be sinless like Jesus, though that is the goal. To be done here means to live a life that is following Christ not sin. While we continually mess up, we also continue to grow more and more into His image, due to His grace and Holy Spirit. We’re called to live a life in which we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” as Jesus says in Matthew 6.
Finally, we look toward doing good. This is a vague phrase, isn’t it? Peter addresses this too, calling we readers to “use whatever gift of grace [we] have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (v.10). There is a freedom of choice hidden in this call; we can choose much of how to love and serve our neighbors with the gifts we’ve been given. The call is just to do good even in the midst of the fiery trial. This is how we, the Church, God’s people, are to live our faith.
- What is one way the Lord is growing you into the image of Christ at this point in your life?
- In what area of life are you still trying to follow your own desires or plans rather than Christ? What would it look like for you to follow Christ in that area too?
- List three ways you can use your gifts to love those around you this week. If you don’t know what your giftings are, ask those who know you the best and pray that God will speak through them.
Did You Know?
1 Peter 4:16 is the third and final time in the New Testament that followers of Christ are known as “Christians.” The word “Christian” literally means “little Christ.” This sounds innocent enough to us today, but it was originally an insult that Christians embraced as the central word that describes us! Talk about embracing difficult times!
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2 thoughts on “1 Peter 4”
As I began to read this chapter the word “attitude” caught my attention in verse 1. It refers to “a feeling or way of thinking that affects a person’s behavior.” In short, attitude informs actions. Peter presents specific habits that are to set apart believers:
1. Be earnest & disciplined in PRAYER.
2. Continue to show deep LOVE for one another.
3. Cheerfully be GENEROUS with possessions and
4. Partner with Christ in SUFFERING.
I pray we will invest our time and talents where they will make an eternal difference. Let’s give a hard pass to negative attitudes and have the mind of Christ.
Andy Stanley “Faith Full” Session 5 on YouTube is over seeking first the kingdom of God. It’s worth the listen.
I reflected on Nate’s message Sunday over Saul (which was awesome!). When he closed with asking you to turn your mess into your ministry, it sparked a question with a friend —which mess? And how do you know what ministry?
I think this passage sums up those questions and quote. We are to use our God-given gifts wherever, to whomever, by whatever means to spread the gospel. Peter has been so good to reread and remind us the importance of cleansing our minds and bodies of sin to redirect our compasses toward following Christ and leading the lost to a Savior. Letting go of our messes (v3), and starting our ministry.