We’re In This Together: Part 1
Bible Text: 1 Peter 4:7-11 | Pastor: Daniel Stertz | Series: A Study of 1st Peter
“One Another” – Gene Goetz is the author of a series of books with the “one another” theme, like:
Loving One Another
Serving One Another
Encouraging One Another
Praying for One Another
He’s a great writer and gives some very practical insights how believers can fulfill the commandment of Jesus that we love each other, for “by this shall all men know you are My disciples” (is what Jesus said).
Here in 1 Peter we have several of the “one another” statements or ideas found in Scripture:
V8 – “charity among yourselves”
V.9 – “Use hospitality one to another”
V10 – “minister the same one to another”
App. These mark a noted change in Peter’s admonitions. Up to this point, Peter has spent much time (2:11-4:6) instructing us how to relate to a hostile world. He now turns to how believers are to treat each other, something he briefly mentioned in 1:22, “love one another with a pure heart fervently.” Up till now it’s been “loving your enemy”. It is still in the context of persecution and difficulty, but the focus is on believers toward believers.
Theme: One thing we are reminded of here is that as Christians living in a world that at the least ignores God and at worst is highly antagonistic toward God, we as believers are “in this together.” We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are part of a family. So what Peter presents is that living with a healthy expectancy of Christ’s return, believers should be motivated to pray for, love, and serve each other unto the glory of God.
Prop: There are several ways the believer should think about their relations to each other in light of the times.
Trans: We start with understanding…
Our Motivation (7)
What should motivate us toward right relations with our fellow Christian? We read: “But the end of all things is at hand.”
We addressed this last Sunday night so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it. As a review “my take” on this is that Peter is thinking along the line of Jesus discourse of “end times” like what we have in Luke 21. When the disciples said, “Look at the beautiful Temple, Jesus responded with, “There’s coming a time when one stone will not be on top another.” This prompted them to ask, “When is the end coming?” Their question was about the coming Kingdom. Jesus didn’t answer directly, because as He told them at other times, “It is not for them to know.” But He pointed to many signs, like the Destruction of Jerusalem, Wars, Famines, & Earthquakes. In the midst of this discourse He said, “But before all these, they shall lay hands on you, and persecute you…” (Luke 21:12). At the end of the discourse Jesus said:
Luke 21:34-36 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. (35) For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. (36) Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
The point I made is that just as Jesus said, “But before all these” they would be persecuted, and follows with the admonition to “take heed to yourselves” and not be so engaged with the world we fall into the “trap” the world will be in. Instead, we are to “Watch & Pray.” This is the same thing Peter said, only a shorter version. He told them in the previous verses (1-6) to not live like the Gentiles, noting that the Lord was ready to judge the living and the dead. Because the end is at hand, we should be sober, watch, and pray.
Jesus is INDEFINITE about when the end would be, but He did say, “Before all these things” persecution would come. So as persecution is happening, Peter says, “the end of all things is at hand.” This doesn’t mean Peter was saying the final end is here, but persecution, associated with end times, was here.
So the motivation is that things are happening as Jesus said, so we need to be motivated to do as He said.
As we apply this to ourselves we can add that with the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, we have seen a major part of God’s redemptive plan being fulfilled. The Church Age we are in, now, would appear to be the “final act” of the plan. We look forward to the next event of the Rapture and later Return of Christ. “The end is at hand” should be a constant motivator.
Furthermore, when we die, the world ends for us. So “the end” is always “at hand” for us as individuals.
Let us not fall into the “trap” of just living like the rest of the world as if there is nothing else. Let us live in light of Christ’s coming. Most of us would agree that if this were our last day, our priorities would change. The problems are, (1) we always think we have more time; and (2) we thus put off what really needs to be done.
If there are relationships that need to be reconciled, get it done today! You don’t know you have tomorrow. Do you think it will never be dealt with if you put it off? One day at the Judgment Seat the believer is going to have to reconcile.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Trans: This brings us to our next point. Besides understanding our motivation we understand how we are to live… or
Our Manner (7b-11)
How are we to live? We are first…
Not To Be Caught Unprepared
Again, these first two things follow what Jesus said in Luke 21. It is about not getting caught up with the rest of the world and ignoring what’s going on. So he says…
Being “sober” means to be “sober-minded” (sophreno). The Gk word, sophreno, is from the word for “save” (sozo) which can also mean “healthy” and the word for mind—healthy mind. You will often find it translated being of “sound mind”. We must guard the mind, keep the mind under control & keep our minds clear.
It was one of the constant reminders of Paul in the Pastoral Epistles where it is mentioned about 10 times. (Turn to Tit 2). Note how many times Paul stresses this for every age group in the church among the adults: Tit 2:1-6.
Titus 2:1-6 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: (2) That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate (sophrone), sound in faith, in charity, in patience. (3) The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; (4) That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, (5) To be discreet (sophron), chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (6) Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded.
Notice how Paul describes sober-mindedness. In the space of just six verses, Paul declares that believers need to have a habit of restraint. It is what should be part of the life of godly older men & women, and godly young women & young men.
Think about this in the context. “We live out each day surrounded by doomed people who are not even aware of the judgment for their sin they will eternally face. To reach out and touch other’s lives with God’s power, He says we must seek His restraint in our lives.”
Trans: We’ll come back to this in a moment because the next item is similar. Besides being Sober-Minded…
Watch Unto Prayer
Sober-Mindedness & a prayer life go together. “Watch” is a synonym for the word “sober”. You often find the phrase in Scripture, “watch & pray.”
Ill. Peter probably had vivid memories of the time he didn’t “watch & pray.” In the Garden, on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus admonished the disciples who had fallen asleep to be alert in prayer. He rebuked them saying, “Could you not watch with me one hour? Watch & pray lest you fall into temptation (Mark 14:37ff).
Again, the world is unaware of what’s going on, but as believers, we should realize that God’s judgment is coming. Lest we get caught up with the world’s “slumber” we need to be alert & pray—pray for endurance and the strength to overcome sin and for freedoms from distractions.
Application. Let us “zero in” on one area where we need restraint. We need to be serious about is what commentator George Will calls, the age of “Electronica.” He speaks about the “costs of the chaos of constant connection.” He refers to an article by Adam Cox, a clinical psychologist, who is worried about the effect of the “cornucopia of electron stimuli on the cognition of young boys.” Cox sees a correlation between the advancement of the electronic playground and learning and attention deficits.
This distraction is not just in boys. We are all so attached to these things (hold out a cell phone) that we must constantly see what news we might be missing (My mom’s comment: “Look at these two.”). We also have a barrage of stimuli from computers, electronic gaming, and TV so that there is never any “down time”.
Here’s the problem. We need times to just “be still and know.” Both of the above men, Will & Cox, are secularists and they see the danger. I’m not sure if we as believers do, though. The Psalmist said,
Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God
Being “sober-minded” & being prayerful means we must exercise restraint when it comes to anything that will keep us away from what’s needed. The age of Electronica is just one thing, but it is a big thing.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Col 3:2)
“What happens to a man whose mind is not restrained by God? A mind that doesn’t get set on things above (Col. 3:1-2) gets amused, carried along, floating with the current of the world going away from God. This doesn’t mean that a believer immediately goes against God; rather, it is a slow process of the Lord having less and less influence over the priorities of life.”
The concern is that God becomes unimportant to us. Worse, that He would be so inconsequentially as not to be noticeable.
God is less interesting than television,
God’s commands are less authoritative than their appetites for affluence and influence,
God’s judgments are no more awe-inspiring than the evening news, and
God’s truth is less compelling than the advertisers’ sweet fog of flattery and lies.
What do we do? Paul’s answer in Titus 2 was:
2:1 – Teach sound doctrine
The Word of God is first. We need to be sure the “noise” is silenced so we have time in the Word. These things can even be a help (electronic Bible & study helps), but do you find it hard to read & think about what you read when things are popping up on your device? Folks, shut them off if they distract. Use restraint.
We also need time just to hear the Lord. That’s where prayer is part of this.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom… (Col 3:16)
Trans: What is our Manner? Besides being alert & not unprepared we are to… (We’ll start this point.)
Guard & Enlarge Our Love For Each Other
The KJV calls love, “charity”. When we think of that we think of “giving”. That is a good definition because that is what real love is. It is giving. Love is the desire to give. Pure love is removed from any desire to get something. It desires only to give. We could also say it is a desire to bless. It wants the best for someone else.
Note how this word, charity, is marked by the words “above all”. The meaning is “especially.” It is “especially important” to love.
Ill. Thinking about the “time” element, again, we may fall into the “trap” of the world without realizing it when we equate busyness with progress. But “most often, a lack of time –time pressures, rushing, scrambling to finish things, busyness—is simply a lack of priorities.” The point is we can choose to do things that are more important. Or we can spend our time on things that don’t matter a lot and be stressed about the things that do matter.
In light of this, note Peter’s priority for the believer. This something that really matters, especially in light of trying times. It is in those times we might be tempted to withdraw into self-preservation and worry only about ourselves. But that’s NOT what we should do. Our priority is to love other believers. We MUST LOVE other believers.
Remember how Jesus taught His disciples this important truth.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (Joh 13:34) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (Joh 13:35)
Ill. John 13 Scene: Jesus didn’t just tell them. He showed them. Imagine the scene as the disciples are reclined around a raised table observing the Passover meal. At some point, Jesus gets up, goes and gets a wash basin & towel and then begins to go around and wash each of the disciples’ feet. This was customary but what made it so momentous was the fact that Jesus did it. He was the Teacher. He was their leader, not their servant.
You can imagine the tension in the room. The silence. The air was so heavy you could cut it with a knife. Jesus makes His way around and comes to Peter. Peter finally breaks the silence—
“Lord, are You washing my feet?” (Joh 13:6)
Jesus addresses what everyone is thinking: “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” (Joh 13:7)
Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
How would you describe Peter’s attitude? Was he embarrassed—outraged? Peter was the one who fell down at Jesus’ feet in the boat at the miracle of the big catch of fish and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8). Now Jesus is about to wash the feet of this sinful man. This is the same One of Whom Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” The sight of the Son of God condescending so low as to wash Peter’s feet was more than he could take. It was demeaning for Jesus. Jesus should never do this.
After Jesus returns to His place at the supper He tells them:
Know ye what I have done to you? (Joh 13:12) Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. (Joh 13:13) If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. (Joh 13:14) For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (Joh 13:15)
What Jesus did here was nothing yet in comparison to what He was going to do. He was going to show a love like no other. The Son of God was going to humble Himself even further. He would willingly lay down His life on a criminal’s cross for them. He would pour out His soul for them & for you and me.
App. Because he was there, this scene should form the backdrop for what Peter expresses in these words: “have fervent charity among yourselves.”
What does he teach us about love?
Love calls for Sacrifice
Peter uses the expression “fervent” love. The word (ektnos) means “to strain” or “to stretch out.” It describes what you do with your muscles. It describes the effort of an athlete who gives his 110%. It is intense, earnest love.
It is not a “you love me & I’ll love you back” love. It goes the extra mile. It is sacrificial.
Eg. That’s what Jesus did when He loved the disciples. He got up from the dinner table. He touched dirty feet. He humbled Himself. He accepted the misunderstandings. He later laid down His life.
Love is Forgiving
He says “love shall cover a multitude of sins”. This doesn’t mean that love pays for sins or condones sin. But love is able to overlook faults and failures.
Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. (Pro 10:12)
A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. (Pro 11:13)
He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. (Pro 17:9)
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. (Col 3:14)
This last reference is especially pictorial.
Ill. When I was in grade school a bunch of us were playing “Kick, Run, Kill.” (Explain) One of the times I got the ball. I started running down the field and soon guys tried to tackle me. Pretty soon I had nearly everyone on me trying to knock me down, but I was determined to stay up. But it finally happened. I fell with this mob of guys on me. When I fell on my shoulder I heard this sickening tearing sound. The ligament on top of my right shoulder had torn. Besides being very painful, my shoulder slumped because the ligament was no longer bonding the joint together.
App. The word “bond” (sundesmon) is the word for ligament. We are pictured as a body(Eph 4)—the Body of Christ. We as members make up the body parts. What holds us together? Ligaments. Love is the ligament which bonds us together.
Because we are sinners there is plenty to tear us apart, but love is what holds us together. It is the “bond” that holds us together in harmony. Forgiving love overcomes what sin tears apart.
We’re going to stop here and pick this up tonight. We said at the beginning that “we’re in this together.” What makes us “together”? What makes us a family? Turn to 1 John 4.
1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. (8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (9) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
Notice that love is sourced in God. God showed His love when He sent His Son to die for sin. He gave that we might live. He gave when we didn’t even want His love.
The believer is simply someone who has been loved. He is someone who has received that love by believing on Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
Note the necessity for our sakes in what God did. His Son was the propitiation for our sins. Sin demands God’s judgment because He is holy. He pledged judgment of sin. But His gift provided atonement for sin.
Now, what should we expect of someone who has been the recipient of such love? “If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Furthermore, loving other believers is a sign that we are born of God and know God.
Have you received this love? Have you received God’s gift by faith, believing Jesus died for your sins?
Have you repented of your sin—recognizing sin is the reason the Son of God died?
If you have, has God’s love filled your heart with love to other believers? (We’ll take this up again tonight.)
Rhet: God wants us to be alert—to wake up. We should not be caught off-guard, but be alert, prayerful, and intentional in our love to each other.