God’s Word for You
1 Peter 4:10-11 the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, May 12, 2022
10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
The “gift” Peter describes is a charisma (χάρισμα), a favor or a gift given by God’s grace. Such gifts are frequently mentioned in the early church with joy. Not all gifts were miraculous abilities like the ones described in 1 Corinthians 12. The gift of salvation itself is the greatest gift God gives, to be praised even more than life (this is an application of Jesus’ words, Matthew 26:24; Mark 14:21). This is one of many verses that teaches the first foundation of the salvation of the sinner, which is the merciful love of God the Father. God is moved by his own love not only to want or desire the deliverance of fallen humanity, but also to bring about this deliverance and to offer the means through which the lost can partake of that deliverance.
By “first foundation,” we mean that this is the first of the three recognized foundations of salvation in Scripture. The first is the love of the Father for the world (John 3:16), the second is the sacrifice of the Son for the world (John 3:16), and the third is the activity of the Holy Spirit who appropriates salvation to the world (John 3:5-6).
Every Christian receives gifts. Salvation itself is one, speaking about one’s faith is another. Serving one’s family in faith is another. A passion to study the word of God (Psalm 145:5) is yet another. Some are more visible, many are invisible. Treasure your gifts, and do as Peter says: use your gifts to serve others.
11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it 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. (NIV)
Do not misunderstand the plural “words of God.” The Word of God, the Bible, is a unified whole, a completed document. But since the message of grace can take on many forms of expression and many examples from everyday life, “words” can be an appropriate term. This is in line with Stephen describing Moses’ sermons as “living messages” (Acts 7:38) and Paul saying that “we have been entrusted with the very words of God” (Romans 3:2). When we preach the word of God, we must remember that it is the word of God we preach, not merely the anecdotes of our lives. An example is only good if it illustrates God’s message. This also makes us preach with confidence as long as we have considered the word of God, studied it, digested it, and understand what God is saying. One of our Seminary professors used to say, “If a man dares to say ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ he jolly well had better know just what it is the Lord hath said.”
The same confidence can and ought to permeate everything we do, doing everything to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and doing all through God who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13). If we are persecuted for our faith, we can say to one another, “Take courage my children, cry to God, and he will deliver you from the power and hand of the enemy.” If we are led by the Holy Spirit to turn away from a temptation, we can say with honor and the Spirit of holiness, “I choose not to do it. I will fall into the hands of the wicked rather than sin in the sight of God.” If we lead a quiet life of faith, God blesses us: “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free” (Isaiah 32:18-20).
The last phrase of verse 11 is very similar to the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer. In the prayer, such a conclusion expresses confidence that our prayers are acceptable to our Father in heaven, first, because Jesus commanded us to pray in this way, second, because Jesus teaches us to seek God’s kingdom first, and third, because we can be sure that when we ask for anything from God in Jesus’ name, we are giving all glory to God. This is also true of our daily tasks and works (which is Peter’s point in this verse):
- First, God has commanded us to do all things to his glory, and therefore when a thing is done in faith with this in mind, whatever that thing might be, we can be assured that God is with us and blesses our tasks.
- Second, Jesus teaches us to seek God’s kingdom first. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). When we do this, we can be untroubled about our task, even if it was to take a friend to task about a sin, to discipline a child, or to punish a dog. Such tasks are like pruning a good plant of its dead leaves and twigs. What remains will be healthier and stronger because we did the unpleasant tasks out of faith and with the blessing of God on our labor.
- Thirdly, When we do anything through faith, we give all glory to God through Christ Jesus. Luther said, “There is only one article and one rule of theology, and this is true faith or trust in Christ. Whoever doesn’t hold this article and this rule is no theologian. All other articles flow into and out of this one; without it the others are meaningless” (LW 54:157). And long before, Christians joined together to confess as one about Christ: “We teach men to confess… the Son, the only-begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the prophets from the beginning concerning him and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy fathers has handed down to us” (The Faith of Chalcedon, 451 AD).
So whatever we do, let us be certain it is the will of God and that we are not scheming to hop the fence of God’s law into some transgression or sin. But if our labor is within the vast and pleasant bounds of God’s will, he blesses us. Do your work with the confidence of being God’s ambassador, servant, envoy, and yes even God’s child. His hand is upon your shoulder, not to judge, but to encourage, and he will give you strength.
Pastor Timothy Smith