1 Peter 4:7-11
7 Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. 8 Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Without question, Scripture is clear that all believers have been given gifts or special empowerment from God to serve others. Peter makes it very clear in this passage that prayer plays a very active role in the effectiveness of our service in Kingdom work.
Communication with God is imperative if our service to others is going to achieve the results God intends it to achieve. Our service to others requires a partnership with God—our obedience, His power.
Prayer helps us to serve in the right place at the right time.
In the last two years, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about service in the Kingdom is that it doesn’t always feel like work. When I’m walking closely with God, His burden truly is light and His yoke really is easy.
In other words, I find that when I’m closely abiding in Him, tapping into His endless source of power, the ways He asks me to serve bring me great joy and fulfillment.
Listening to His guidance about serving others also helps me understand what He’s NOT calling me to do. You see, when I’m walking with Him, I can more easily recognize the voice of “SHOULD.” We’ve all heard this voice say things like, “Oh, you SHOULD go to that service project” or “You SHOULD have been part of that worthy cause.”
God isn’t in the business of shaming us into doing His work. He has specific ways for us to serve that He intends to fulfill us, teach us, and make us more like Christ. Yes, He calls us to serve to benefit others, but He also calls us to serve because He knows we were designed to share in His purpose and His work.
Prayer allows us to determine the difference between the tasks He calls us to, and the “SHOULDS” that tax us and take away our joy.
Prayer enables us to serve others in love.
Peter implies in this passage that the result of prayer is the ability to serve others with strength, energy and love. God is love (1 John 4:16), and therefore time with Him in prayer replenishes our ability serve others with love.
I’d submit that one of the key reasons God calls us to serve others is because love opens the door for others to have a glimpse of Jesus, or perhaps to hear the good news of His death and resurrection, which reconciles us to the Father. Prayer acts as the avenue by which God fills our lives with His love from His never-ending supply.
Prayer enlightens us to the ways God chooses to work through us.
The word “gift” as used in this passage is the Greek word "Charisma" and denotes an extraordinary power, given by the grace of God, which enables believers to serve others in a specific way. Peter gives a few examples of spiritual gifts here, and reminds us that the power to serve in these special and unique ways comes from God.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul exhorts us to be informed about our gifts and to seek God to understand how He desires us to uniquely serve others. Therefore, in order to understand the nature and purpose of the gift, we must know the Giver! Prayer enables us to do just that.
- Do you know what spiritual gifts (power to serve) God has given you? Spiritual gift assessments are helpful, but asking God to reveal your gifts to you is key. Set a reminder on your calendar to pray each morning for one week and ask God to reveal the ways He’s empowered you to serve.
- Spend some time in reflection today about the times you have felt you SHOULD serve, as opposed to the times you felt God leading you and energizing you to do something. How was the outcome different?
- What ways do you most enjoy loving others through service?