1 Peter 4:7-11
But the end of all things is at hand: be you therefore sober, and watch to prayer.…
I. ALL OUR POSSESSIONS ARE THE GIFTS OF GOD, BEING PART OF HIS MANIFOLD GRACE.
1. When we consider the shortness of the time for which these gifts are granted, we may consider them as loans, returnable to the lender when the term for which they are lent is expired.
2. These gifts are not committed to us merely for our own enjoyment, but that we may use them to the benefit of the whole body of the Church. This is evidently God's purpose. His grace is manifold. He is no maker of favourites.
3. That which is shown to be true of God's natural gifts is true in a still higher degree of His gifts of grace. The imagining that spiritual privileges are bestowed for the exclusive benefit of their possessors was the error which destroyed the Church of Israel.
4. The gifts which we receive of God we receive of Him through the Eternal Son.
(1) This is true even apart from the fact of the Incarnation. He is the Word of God, by Him all things are made. Through Him God goes forth to His creatures.
(2) This is true in a much higher sense since the Word has become Incarnate, and through His Incarnation reconciled us to God. Having fulfilled all the will of God, to Him is given all power in heaven and in earth. In the might of that power He bids His apostles go forth to claim all human souls as His rightful inheritance.
II. WHAT GIFTS HAS GOD BESTOWED UPON US, AND HOW ARE WE TO USE THEM? These gifts are:
(a) spiritual, and
1. Spiritual gifts are such as we receive through our membership with the mystical body of Christ. They consist in redemption if we will accept it; sanctification if we will seek for it; and all the blessed means whereby the life of the Incarnate Word is bestowed upon us and kept alive within us, if we will use them.
2. Among our natural gifts some are common to all. Life, a sphere of usefulness large or small, health, powers of mind and body. There are other gifts bestowed upon some persons, and withheld from others. The power of influence, the possession of talent or of wealth, the gift of utterance, the advantages of position. While it is possible to claim these natural gifts as our own without reference to our Incarnate Lord, yet it is only when we possess them in Him that we may be said to possess them truly. Otherwise, they are as likely to possess us as we are to possess them, to be our masters as we are to be theirs.
3. Thus ministering the gift as we have received it, whether it be large or small, whether it be natural or spiritual, we find upon gathering up the fragments that remain over and above to those to whom we have ministered, that there is greater store than we knew, greater because more full of God's blessing!
(Canon Vernon Hutton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.