Trials From Without - Lesson 18- Maintaining Strong Fellowship.
1 Peter 4: 7 - 11
7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins.
9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
11 Whoever speaks is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
When facing trials or difficulties, it is vital to have strong fellowship among the believers. The support that each one gives to the other makes the difference between victory and defeat. As trials come from outside the church, the enemy often works inside to weaken the body with pointless conflict. Peter here lists good and fundamental principles that will strengthen everyone.
His opening premise is that he was living near the end of time. We smile because he wrote this over two thousand years ago, and we don’t know how much more time will pass before Jesus comes, triggering the end-time sequence that concludes in eternity. This is another instance where New Testament wording points to the imminent rapture of the church. Peter was expecting Jesus’ return and, in light of it, urged sound judgment and sober spirit as an impetus to prayer.
Fervent love builds on the foundation of prayer. A love that covers each other’s sins so that conflict or disappointment can be avoided. Fervent love is intentional and cultivated and requires constant maintenance. The lubricant keeps relationships smooth through the daily grind of life.
Hospitality flows out of love, the tricky part is keeping it free of complaints. It’s easy to plan social or hospitable events, but sometimes fatigue comes in, and it gets a little more complicated. Or maybe somebody didn’t carry their part — that’s where genuine love comes in and lets it go without complaint.
Personal spiritual gifts are to be used in the mutual serving of one another. Gifts flow in conjunction with manifold grace that all comes from God. God always assembles a complete body in a local church. Eyes, ears, hands, etc., come together to accomplish tasks bigger than the individual parts. If some people don’t exercise their gift, their body feels the shortfall. But great things are accomplished when everyone does what God has equipped them to do.
Speaking is always a sticky wicket. Oh, how the tongue can light destructive fires and do great damage. So when speaking, stop and yield to the Spirit, who can make speech sweet and encouraging rather than something less. Take speech seriously as if you are speaking God-words at any time. That will totally eliminate offense even as you speak words that build up instead of tearing down.
Then when serving, be sure to do it with the strength God provides. Human resources start out with great enthusiasm but often run out before the task is done. Divine strength doesn’t run out or weaken. Peter set out to establish that everything relates to the spiritual realm. Fellowship among saints can be radically fulfilling when it starts with God and His supply of everything.
When people live this way, God is glorified. He is made big and recognized for His power and love. Each individual in the church must assume personal responsibility for these actions and attitudes. Don’t wait for someone else, and don’t blame someone else. Instead, step up to the plate and hit your grand slam.
Come to Jesus and seek His supply for your needs. Let Him fill you, satisfy you, and prepare you to be a vital link in the chain of fellowship that walks in the train of His triumph.