How to Walk With God
Time is short, and God has given us specific instructions so we can make the best use of our time until He returns.
Someone has aptly said, “Counting time is not nearly as important as making time count!” No one can stop the clock of history. It ticks with exactness through each passing day. Job said of his life, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” (Job 7:6); and King David said of his, “Indeed, You [God] have made my days as handbreadths” (Ps. 39:5).
However, it was the apostle Peter who made the most telling statement about time: “The end of all things is at hand” (1 Pet. 4:7). Many people have asked themselves, If the end of all things was at hand in Peter’s day, how can it be at hand today, 2,000 years later? Was Peter wrong? No, he was correct. The end of all things was at hand then—and it is today.
The Greek word for “at hand [draws near]” is in the perfect tense, meaning Christ’s coming had drawn near for Christians in Peter’s day and could have occurred then, just as it could occur today or in the future. Therefore, all Christians should live with great expectation and anticipation because “the Son of Man [Christ] is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Mt. 24:44).
Christ’s return is imminent. He could appear at any moment. Knowing this truth, Peter was reminding believers in every generation of their duty to live each day for the Lord.
Other New Testament authors also referred to being in the last days. The apostle Paul used the phrase ends of the ages (1 Cor. 10:11). The apostle John used the phrase the last hour (1 Jn. 2:18). Paul and James said, “The Lord is at hand” (Phil. 4:5; Jas. 5:8); and the writer of Hebrews used the phrase in these last days (Heb. 1:2).
So, in light of Christ’s imminent return, how should we live? First Peter 4:7–11 teaches us how to walk with God and live responsibly in our private moments and in our dealings with others.
Our Private Moments
First, we are to “be serious” (v. 7) about our devotion to Christ. The word serious means to be clear-minded in our thinking and commitments. A sound-minded individual will be reasonable, balanced, and wise when it comes to the issues of life.
Second, we are to be “watchful in [our] prayers” (v. 7). The word watchful means “sober,” not controlled by alcohol or other substances that dull, confuse, or disorient our thinking. A Christian should possess a calm, collected, tranquil spirit when praying and maintain self-control over his or her mental faculties and feelings.
Such soberness is always important, but it is especially vital for communicating effectively with God in prayer.
Our Dealings With Others
Peter also told us how to behave toward others in the church, as well as in society in general.
Exercise Love. “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’” (v. 8). The phrase above all makes love the most important quality Christians should manifest toward one another. Three previous times in this epistle, Peter mentioned loving the brethren (1:22; 2:17; 3:8).
The word love (Greek, agape) refers to a self-sacrificing love that God has shown believers and that we are to show others. Notice, this love is to be “fervent,” meaning we should earnestly extend ourselves to bestow it on all Christian brothers and sisters. We are not to be self-centered and should sincerely give of ourselves.
Such love “will cover a multitude of sins” (4:8). This does not mean we ignore, disregard, or make allowances for the sins of others. It means we do not expose sins in the body of Christ or broadcast someone’s sins to the public. To the contrary, we are to handle them according to Jesus’ teaching (Mt. 18:15–17, 22).
Practice Hospitality. “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Pet. 4:9). This verse commands the continual practice of showing love to the brethren by offering food and shelter. The word hospitable literally means “friendly to strangers” and speaks of providing shelter and food to traveling Christians.
This practice was essential because, in that day, there were few public inns; and those that existed often reeked of drunkenness and immorality. A Christian home also provided fellowship and protection and aided traveling preachers and missionaries (cf. Mk. 6:10; Heb. 13:1–2; 3 Jn. 1:5–8).
Such hospitality is considered a duty to be undertaken without resentment, grumbling, or complaining. Hospitality should be viewed as serving the Lord Himself (cf. Mt. 25:40).
Use Your Spiritual Gifts. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet. 4:10). Every true believer has at least one gift bestowed on him from the Lord.
The term gift (Greek, charisma) comes from the same root as the Greek word for “grace” (charis) and refers to a favor the Lord freely bestowed at a specific time in a believer’s life. This word appears only once outside of Paul’s writings. The reference is not confined to a specific gift mentioned in the Bible but, rather, applies to natural abilities, talents, and capacities bestowed on individuals by the Holy Spirit.
Peter separated the gifts into two groups: speaking gifts and serving gifts (v. 11). Speaking gifts can be used inside or outside the church and involve teaching, preaching, prophesying, exhorting, testifying, and evangelizing (publicly or in private conversation). Speaking, however, must proclaim “the oracles [Word] of God” (v. 11) and not merely be personal opinion.
As for serving, Peter wrote, “If anyone ministers [serves], let him do it as with the ability which God supplies” (v. 11). Serving is not limited to the position of deacon but, rather, refers to all Christians using the gifts and abilities God gave them within the church.
Be a Good Steward. A steward (v. 10), or manager, is someone who oversees the affairs of someone else. The job could involve managing an owner’s property according to the owner’s will and instructions. In any event, a good steward manages his duties virtuously and is blameless—above reproach.
Evangelize. All Christians, especially since the end is at hand, need to be involved in evangelism. Immediately before His ascension to heaven, Jesus commanded His disciples, “You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8; cf. Mt. 28:19–20).
This admonition was not meant exclusively for the apostles. All believers should actively witness to others about Christ. We have no choice as to whether or not we proclaim the gospel. Christ expects all of us to do so.
The same is true when it comes to using our gifts to serve the Lord. We are to use them in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. Then we will be using our time wisely to walk with God and lead meaningful lives that glorify Him.
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This is the way to live!