This portion of the letter offers us another exhortation to holiness. Since “the end of all things is near,” we ought to be sure to live according to holiness. The nearness of death and judgment is itself an irresistible argument for maintaining an indifference to earthly things. What you believe about the future will affect how you live today. Specifically, in this passage, the nearness of the end of all things should move us to pray (v. 7), love (vv. 8-9), employ (vv. 10-11a), and glorify (v. 11b).
Pray (verse 7)
Christians must maintain sound judgment. That is, we must think appropriately and evaluate situations maturely. We should possess both a seriousness and a watchfulness in light of the fact that the end is near. Additionally, we must maintain a sober spirit. That is, we should exercise moderation with regard to earthly things and our employment of them. We should live with vigilant carefulness and our actions ought to be tempered with wisdom. The exhortation toward sound judgment and sobriety of spirit is given “for the purpose of prayer.” That is, not merely so that we can pray, but so that our prayers are more effective and more appropriate. We ought to be careful not to engage with those things that might mar the nearness of Christ or our ability to think rightly about Him.
Love (verses 8-9)
Communing with God through the mediation of Christ’s work on our behalf increases our love for Him and also for His people. Love is to be our first priority. Christian love is not just about our love to God but must also involve love for others. Love for God is displayed by love for fellow believers (1 John 4:20). To be “fervent” in our love is to remain constant, stretched, and extended in it. Fervent love can be commanded because love is not just a feeling or primarily an emotion, but a decision that leads to action.
The reason given by Peter is that “love covers a multitude of sins.” Love among Christians means that we do not seek to expose every weakness, vulnerability, or sin. It means that we guard ourselves from the secret bitterness, hidden prejudices, and cool indifferences that tend to result from a decay of spirituality in the soul. Not much will destroy the unity of a church faster than constant criticism and nitpicking about things that aren’t going our way.
One evidence of love is showing hospitality. Hospitality is sharing with others what God has given us. Our hospitality is to be cheerful, without resentment regarding the time or resources spent and without complaining or murmuring. Grumbling hospitality and condescending benevolence do not represent the heart of Christ.
Employ (verses 10-11a)
Each Christian has received a special gift. The whole congregation is involved in ministry and is responsible to employ their gifts. The body is not, “Come and watch his gifts displayed,” but, “Employ your gift in serving one another.” The gift you have received is not for you, but for the “building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). When we think that our gifts are for us, we tend to think about them wrongly. It often seems that the gift we have been given is not the one we think we need or that we want. But God knows what the believers in your life need and He has gifted you accordingly. As stewards of the gift God has given, we are to manage it well with dependence on God for the strength to do His will.
Glorify (verse 11b)
When we live prayerful lives with sound judgment and sober spirit, when we love God and others, and when we employ our gift in serving others with reliance on God’s strength, then God begins to be glorified in our lives. That is, the weight, the dignity, and the importance of who He is begins to be manifested through us to others. The wonderful truth for the believer is that God will be glorified in your life—not in your condemnation, but as a trophy of His grace.
- Unfortunately, a preoccupation with the second coming of Christ often leads more to hysteria than to sober wisdom and sound judgment. The study of the end times should motivate the believer to live godly. When this is not the result, it is almost certain that we are not thinking correctly about the end times. As you think about the end of all things, in what ways is your heart affected? Does it stir you to desire to live with sound judgment for the purpose of prayer? Does it increase your desire to love well and be hospitable? Does it create in you a greater interest in employing your gift in service to the body of Christ? How might you strive to grow in these areas this week, as you rely on the strength with God supplies through Christ?