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Values for Serving Others

Values are like a compass showing us due north. Values give us direction. Values make our lives easier, because they’ve already settled issues for us that we don’t have to wrestle with every time they come up. Values help us focus on right-living.

In 1 Peter 4:7-11, the Lord provides us with five values to guide us as we employ our spiritual gifts in the family of Christ:

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11)

In verse 7 we read, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” In the context of this letter, Peter has been reminding his readers of how temporal this world is. (See 1 Peter 1:3-5, 13 and 2:11-12). The value he gives us here is that we must be Kingdom-focused! We realize that what we’re doing has Kingdom impact. This is a God-sized endeavor and not some puny earth-sized thing! Also, what God wants to do through us is far bigger than we are.

Verse 8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” The value here is: We must be others-centered!  Investing in others is all about others. It is not about me or us. Paul said, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who…made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” (Phil 2:3, 5, 7)

Exercising our spiritual gifts must be about others and not about self-fulfillment. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” The spiritual gifts you and I have been given by the Holy Spirit are for serving others. The enjoyment we receive in serving others is a wonderful by-product of selfless service.

We find the third value in verse 9 (NLT), “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” The value here is: We must be joy-prompted! (See Hebrews 12:2.)

The movie, Chariots of Fire is the story of a Scottish follower of Christ, Eric Liddell, who in the 1924 Olympics took the gold medal and set a world record in the 400-meter race. Eric loved to run. He was designed to run and he was obviously a gifted athlete and runner. When someone asked him why he ran, he responded, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure!” When we allow God to work through us to serve others, we feel His pleasure! And it truly is a great joy to serve and help others!

The first part of verse 10 contains the next value, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.” The value here is: We must be action-oriented! Use your spiritual gift! Taking action also means taking risks. Risks with our time, money and reputation. But move out on it. Don’t be passive, timid, weak and unbelieving. Take a hold of God’s grace and take action! God has given you to your church family and situated you there strategically to act out his life-changing plan (1 Corinthians 12:18).

The fifth value we find in verses 10-11, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” The value here is: We must be God-dependent! The talents, skills and resources we have are gifts from God. We are totally dependent on him in employing our gifts for his glory.

The mind picture I get here is of an endless banquet table at which countless others are seated. It is a festive, joyous banquet. The Lord is our gracious host who has provided the most amazing, plentiful and tantalizing feast imaginable. Now picture yourself in the white coat of a food server. It is your privilege to fill someone’s plate from the buffet table with all God’s delicious delicacies and place those before the person you’re serving. You feel like a small child handing out Christmas presents from under the tree on Christmas morning. What joy is ours to distribute God’s grace to others!

© 2009 Rob Fischer