“Now the end of all things is near.” Completion is at hand; or, as the song says, God’s purposes are ripening fast. You see, God created everything for the purpose of bringing Him glory; and it will not be long until He completes that purpose. That’s what the word “end” means. In Greek, it is telos, and this word deals with bringing something to its end, perfecting something, finishing the purpose for which something was done. In other words, the Lord is finishing His work, and the end is not far off. So, in light of this understanding, how should we – as Christians – live? Thankfully, Peter does not leave us doubting in 1 Peter 4:7-11.
We are told first to be serious. This is not a time for light-heartedness. We must understand the gravity of the situation: real men and real women need the gospel of Jesus more than anything else. There is literally nothing more important. A steady job, a stable home, a loving wife: none of it matters without the gospel. Good things and good deeds cannot and will not save men from eternal damnation. Only the blood of Jesus saves sinners. Therefore, be serious.
Second, Peter tells us to be “disciplined for prayer.” Now is not a time to relax. The world is enticing and deceptive, but “the world with its lust is passing away” (1 Jn. 2:17). How do we remain focused? How do we remain intent on the gospel? By being “disciplined in prayer.” What does this mean? It means intentionally fighting for your communion with the living God. Your natural, sin-loving flesh will do all it can – and Satan will do all he can – to hinder your fellowship with God. But you must stay disciplined; there is no off-season for the Christian.
Third, Peter tells us “above all, maintain an intense love for each other.” Love the people God loves; not as if you must, but intensely. Peter, perhaps, is referencing Jesus’ words in John 15: “This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” That is how intense our love ought to be: Christ-like and self-sacrificial. Why? ”Since love covers a multitude of sin.” Love, intense and self-sacrificing love, prevents or covers a great many sins; if you are loving, you are not hating; if you love, you do not envy. Love each other intensely.
Fourth, we are told to “be hospitable to one another without complaining.” Now, Peter uses a very interesting word here: philoxenos. I’m sure you’re familiar with the philo part, that’s love (like Philadelphia: city of brotherly love). But xenos is interesting. That word refers to either a host or a stranger/foreigner. In the Greek world, the xenos was sacred to Zeus, and being philoxenos – that is, hospitable to the host/foreigner – was one of the most sacred of religious duties which one had. Being inhospitable was sacrilege. And Peter is taking this idea, and he is telling Christians that we too are to take care of “each other” (i.e., other Christians) because all Christians are sacred to God. And we should do so without complaining, no exceptions.
Fifth, use your talents and gifts to serve one another “as good managers of the varied grace of God.” And Peter gives us two examples: speaking and serving. If you are a teacher of the gospel, speak “as one who speaks God’s words.” If you serve the church, “it should be from the strength God provides.” Whatever you do, remember that everything comes from God, and not one ounce of effort originates with you (cf. Eph. 2:8).
Why? Why ought we live like this? ”So that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything.” There are two related ideas here. First, the Lord is being glorified “through Jesus Christ,” not through you. This is not intended to demean you; rather, it is insurance for us. If we remember that we only bring glory to God through exalting Jesus, then we will remain humble. Second, this only works because Jesus died for us. He uses us, poor, ransomed sinners, to glorify God. How? By inspiring in us a love so intense that we gladly spend our lives following His commands. When we live as He has directed, we proclaim the saving work of Jesus bodily to the world. That is why we are to live in the above way. That is why we “are to be holy in all [our] conduct” (1 Pet. 1:15). God displays His power by enabling us to live holy lives, set apart from the world, through faith in the blood of Jesus, which cleanses us from all unrighteousness.