Living To Serve

I Peter 4:8-11 “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

Within our text, Peter emphasizes the word “minister” in verses 10 & 11. The word means to be an attendant, to wait upon, to host or serve. The emphasis is upon the work to be done and not on the relationship between lord and servant. It is imperative that we recognize that it is the responsibility of all to serve; not just a chosen few that appear to exhibit select abilities. This is emphasized by the terms, “one to another”, every man” and “any man.” It is within the expectations of God that all men possess the heart of a servant.

I would like to call your attention to three areas that Peter magnifies in respect to our service, the first being the possession for service, “As every man hath received the gift.” The word “gift” means a divine gratuity, a spiritual endowment, free gift which is the result of grace, an undeserved benefit from God. Peter is telling his audience that they are expected to use in service, the spiritual endowment that is an undeserved blessing of God that is the result of His grace.

Secondly, Peter magnifies the people to be served, “Use hospitality one to another.” While all men are to be encompassed within the boundaries of our love, there is to be a special bond among the brethren. Paul emphasizes this when writing to the Galatians; “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Love seeks out every occasion to benefit all men, but “especially . . . the household of faith.” The word “especially” means in the greatest degree, particularly, chiefly or most of all. The parameters of service are not so much the needs of the person, as it is the nature of the person; “the household of faith.” Speaking of hospitality, William Barclay said, “Without the hospitality, the early church could not have existed.”

Lastly, Peter magnifies the power for service, “let him do it as of the ability which God giveth.” If there is one thing that God wants to make clear through the pen of Peter it is that God’s expectations for service does not rest in man’s ability! Peter is informing his audience that as children of the Living God, they are “Energy Equipped.” The word “ability” means forcefulness, power or strength; this reveals the energy with which we are to serve. The word “giveth” means to furnish or equip one for the task; this reveals being equipped to serve. Knowing the inadequacies of the flesh, God by means of the residing presence of the Holy Ghost, has equipped us to serve “but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Corinthians 2:4). In verse 10, we have been given substance to share; in verse 11, we have been given the scriptures to sound and the strength to serve; therefore we are without excuse!

If He can die for use, we can live for Him; as born again believers, we are to be living to serve!