I have the upmost respect for mechanics. I have attempted some DIY mechanics in my driveway and without fail every time I do, I am reminded that our wise and all-knowing Father in heaven gave that gift to someone other than me. Clearly there are many mechanics in this world but most of us “have a guy.” When it’s time for an oil change, brake job, or something else we have a trusted mechanic that helps gets the job done. I “have a guy”, he has been our mechanic now for many years and I trust in his ability to not only keep my vehicles in good running condition but safe for driving my family around each and every day. 1
In his first letter to the church Peter teaches us about living for God, to live not for what the world desires but for the will of God. Today, much like the audience Peter was writing to we face a similar battle. The habits or ways of the world have an uncanny way of drawing us into its power of looking out for number one… ourselves. In chapter 4:10 Peter says, “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others… If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
One of the things that made me stop and think after reading this verse a couple of times, was that Peters instruction for us had nothing to us. Let me explain. It’s about serving others, not being self-serving; It is about bringing glory and praise to God, not putting ourselves in the limelight. It takes a
supernatural strength of character and humility to live a life that brings honor and glory to God over ourselves. A strength that Peter tells us God provides.
What comes to your mind when you think about “gifts” in context of your faith? For the most part we think about passages like Romans chapter 12, 1 Corinthians 12 or Ephesians 4 where we find references to the gifts of evangelism, teaching, giving, administration, healing and others. When we commit our lives to Christ, we, through the Holy Spirit are given one or more of these spiritual gifts. Being uniquely created by God, we use them in many different ways. The call to serve one another in 1 Peter 4:10 refers to an act of service done in genuine love and for the encouragement and growth of those who are being served.
So, why did I choose to relate this message of gifts and serving to a mechanic? Well, “my guy” the one who helps with my mechanical work, does so with an attitude of genuine love. Frist, he loves to help others. Second, he loves what he does. He does the work because it is a part of his ministry of serving others. I used this example of a servant’s heart because it is inspiring, it often sparks the desire in me to use the gifts I have been given to serve others.
The things we do, the gifts that we have, whether it be fixing vehicles, creating cards of encouragement or thanks, making meals for those in need, lending a listening ear or quietly serving behind the scenes on a Sunday morning, each one when done with an attitude of genuine love for others brings honor, glory and praise to God. That is what he has called us to do.
We can either heed the warning of the “do not enter” or “danger” sign and stay on this side of safety or we can ignore the warnings and walk into a potentially dangerous situation. The sign has a very clear purpose and is pretty much universal in its message across the world. With that being said, I know that there are a number of people out there that see this sign and ask the question, “how dangerous is it?” For them it sparks a certain amount of curiosity and interest, questioning that of what lies beyond the warning.
“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” (2 Peter 3:17). Peter is closing his second letter with this warning, so it makes sense that he writes to us in his letters in a way that alerts us of some potentially “dangerous” situations. The most notable of these warnings is the influence of the false prophets and teachers that have been working their way into the lives of the people and the church. Over and over through his letters we are told that we will suffer because of our faith in Jesus, a warning and notice that our suffering for doing good is commendable before God. As we continue our reading through the text we are also warned of the enemy (the devil) who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 peter 5:8).
As leaders today we can fall prey to theses dangerous situations. Peter describes for us, the means by which the false prophets work, secretly introducing destructive heresies that are contrary to the sound doctrine we are growing in. Often times there is no danger sign shouting out to us to stop. Peter reminds us to grow not only in our faith through knowledge, but in goodness, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love. When we build these qualities into our faith, into our leadership we will not stumble, we will see the warning signs against the teachings of false doctrine, we will stand strong in suffering, and we will see the devil prowling around us (standing on guard). We may hear these warnings, we might see the signs, it is up to us to heed them even when our curiosity, our broken human condition of self and pride try to prevail.
“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming”(1Peter 1:13). Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray” (1Peter 4:7). “Be alert and of sober mind” (1Peter 5:8). Alert and sober, two words used in the NIV translation that offer insight to an appropriate state of mind as we come to the Lord in prayer. Other translations use words like vigilant, disciplined, watchful and self-control, each of these words help shape our relationship with God.
When we think of the word sober it is often used in context to contrast the the lack of self-control and over indulgence of alcohol, an unfortunate state that often numbs the senses and makes one careless and unaware of their actions. There are many things today that can pull us away from that alert and sober state of being that Peter writes about. Things like power, prestige, love/lust and even technology, all these things can distract or diminish our faith allowing us to fall away from God. Peter writes in chapter 4:7 that “The end of all things is near”, He is warning us to be in the right place with God so that we may pray and be ready to be in His presence.
When we set our hope and trust on the grace given to us through Christ Jesus we have an open line of communication to our creator who gives us when we humbly ask the ability to maintain a lifestyle of self control and reverence for Him. The key to staying “sober” is remaining vigilant and disciplined when it comes to our time in prayer with God. Taking time to remove ourselves from the distractions of life (Mat 6:6) will help us know our God more fully and help us live out a life that is pleasing to Him.