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 Pet 4:10-11)
Making resolutions in the new year has always been a festive tradition in the west, but sadly it has also been customary to see these resolutions break as quickly as they were made. The motivation to achieve these goals often wanes even within the first week, and before long we’re back to our old habits.
I suspect many of us are quite pessimistic when it comes to making personal goals for the year. However, if anyone should have a reason for making resolutions it should be us, because God has given Christians his Spirit to produce authentic spiritual transformation in our lives. “But” you might ask, “what sort of resolution should I make?”
When was the last time you made a resolution to serve others with the gifts God has given you?
The apostle Peter encouraged his readers to resolve to live the rest of their years, not for worldly passions, but for the will of God (1 Pet 4:2). But unique challenges arose for these newborn Christians: the world swiftly swore allegiance against them (1 Pet 4:4). Peter explains this as a visible expression of the end times, and so they must determine to be sober-minded for the sake of their prayers and to continue loving one another with heartfelt service and hospitality (1 Pet 4:7-9). Their other resolutions were to foster appropriate use of the gifts they possessed, which leads us to our passage. We can learn five things here about the nature of our gifts.
As each has received a gift… (v10a) It is easy to discredit our own abilities when we see that others can do things so much better than us. But just because you can’t cook or play a musical instrument as well as your admired idols doesn’t mean you aren’t gifted. Gifts are given not just to a select few, but to every member of the church. Whether your gifts are miraculous or not, it all comes from the same Spirit.
… use it to serve one another…(v10b) How counterintuitive this idea is, that we should not use what we have to serve ourselves but to serve others! Understanding the biblical conception of how we are to use gifts should smash a dent into the world’s egotistic mantra of self-promotion and self-indulgence. Spiritual gifts are imparted to us to be imparted to others, for building the body of Christ.
… whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies…(v11a) Each of us are given different gifts all used to serve by various servant-hearted means (Rom 12:6-8). This is important, because we often covet other people’s gifts while undermining the gifts God has given us to steward. But we all have a distinct role to play, and it is irreplaceable from all the other roles that constitute the body.
Many unbelievers are exceptionally gifted in speaking, but they draw their confidence from their self-sufficiency. We must draw our confidence from the Spirit to truly bless others with our gifts, rather than relying on our own insight. When we speak, we depend on the Spirit to give us the words to say (Rom 8:26). When we serve others, we come to the power source himself and offer petitions to him to supply us with the strength we need (Ps 46:1-3).
… in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (v11b) The grand purpose for the administration of these gifts is to make manifest Christ’s excellencies in everything we do. This subsequently includes how we use our gifts to accomplish that purpose. The term ‘everything’ places an absolute parameter on the scope of how our gifts are to be used, and it begs us the question: “Do I use my gifts so that in everything God is glorified?”
If you use your gifts so that in everything you are glorified, then you need to sense the urgency of the end times, by resolving right now not be a gluttonous Christian who eats their fill and never helps out at the table. Make a change to be a steward who ensures others are receiving what they need. What better way to start than to look for ministries in our churches that can be filled with the gifts God has given us. This could be leading the children, setting up the pantry, welcoming and ushering newcomers, discipling others, Bible study leading—the list goes on.
By doing this, we teach our neighbours how resolutions should really be made. Let us make it plain to all that we are recipients of grace who love and serve each other with exuberant joy, so our unified love radiates the glories of Christ into the crevices of this dark world. This is our chief end.