Day 9 – Love Others by Using Our Gifts
For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead…
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies —in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
– 1 Peter 4:3-5; 7-11
The Apostle Peter was keenly aware of the fact that human beings are anything but passive. Apart from the grace of God we are discontented and determined creatures; stewarding our energies in a “flood” of whimsical, wasteful and self-destructive pursuits. Saint Augustine, wearied by warring passions in his soul, penned the words that only a converted man could write in his revered Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”
The “rest” that Augustine alluded to was not to cease from work. Better, the peace he found in Jesus flowed from his understanding that he had been reconciled to God. The love that subsequently flooded his heart (and ours), infused his life with purpose and with love for mankind. We are never so alive as when we begin each day cognizant of the fact that we have been fashioned and commissioned to serve as image-bearers—serving, building, comforting and creating, We are never so satisfied as when we redirect our pursuits and devote our time, energies and resources to serve others “by the strength that God supplies.”
In the letter that bears his name, Peter referred to spiritually-oriented talents when he posits that we have all received at least one “gift.” He mentions three —hospitality, teaching and service— though many more spiritual gifts are explicitly identified in the New Testament (see also Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4). One of our first responsibilities as followers of Jesus is to discern our place and calling within a community of faith. The fast track to discovering our niche is to simply serve when able! The surest signs of the presence of a spiritual gift is the fulfilment we experience in our service and the efficacy of the endeavor. Feedback from our brothers and sisters in Christ is critical.
It is nothing short of tragic that any church member would live out our days unaware of or neglecting the gift(s) and attending responsibilities. Everyone loses when we do; everyone wins when roll up our sleeves and serve.
Lord, please reveal (or confirm) the manner in which I was gifted to serve You. Please forgive me for wasted time and misdirected pursuits, for my life is but “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” and there is much at stake. You have blessed me with particular abilities to bless others. Give me strength to win the residual skirmishes that linger in my soul, ever threatening to sideline and dehumanize. Give me strength to serve with excellence and power. Open up doors of service for me so that I may glorify You today. I pray this for myself and all who are praying with me today, Amen.
Ministry Director, Christian Union Gloria (Harvard College)
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