The Manifold Gifts for Manifold Need
1 Peter 5:10
But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect…

The apostle has so exalted an idea of the fullness and variety of the operations of God's grace that he heaps together here all these terms which substantially express the same idea. The accumulation, however, is not empty tautology. It witnesses to the joyful emotion which fills his heart. It brings to view the completeness of the multiform help which our need in all its aspects may expect to receive. That great river of ever-flowing Divine communication parts into the four heads which water all the Eden of the renewed soul. Though the ideas be closely connected, yet we may distinguish between them, and may let our thoughts dwell on these words, in which the apostle seeks to breathe his own cheerful confidence into sorrowful and tried hearts, as illustrating both man's manifold need and God's manifold grace. The whole verse is best regarded, with the Revised Version, not as a prayer, but as an assurance: "God shall perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."

I. OUR FAILURES AND IMPERFECTIONS WILL BE REPAIRED. The word here translated "perfect" properly means "to restore to a state of completeness." It is used to describe the process of mending nets. It is used in its ethical sense (Galatians 6:1) to express the Christian duty of restoring the brother overtaken in a fault. And so it is employed here for that great work of Divine grace by which our defects are made good, the rents which sin has made mended, the tarnished purity given back, the scars effaced. That form of the Divine help answers to the deepest of our needs, and, in its incipient stages, is the firstfruits of the great harvest of God's grace which a believing soul reaps. We need first of all forgiveness and the removal of the guilt of our sins. All restoration of fallen men to the lost ideal of man, which is the likeness of God, must begin there, and then there follows a long process which the patient God carries on, mending us by slow degrees, and step by step supplementing this defect and repairing the results of that sin, till there be no gaps remaining needing to be filled and no flaws in character needing to be corrected. "'Tis a lifelong task till the lump be leavened." The restoring grace has to permeate all the crannies and corners of the soul. It must transform and expel, if it is to mend and restore. When we think of our own defects and see how much is lacking in our characters, we may well feel that nothing can ever fill up these. Then the confidence of this brave text may hearten us. It is the God of all grace to whom we look for our perfecting. No emptiness can be so vast and so empty that that "all cannot fill it. No man can have gone so far from the right way, or had his nature so lacerated by sin's cruel fangs, that that all" cannot heal and repair the damage. Therefore the more we sound the height, and length, and breadth, and depth of our imperfections and sins, the more joyfully should we think of the completeness of that power which overlaps them on all sides and surpasses them in every dimension, and the more confidently should we exclaim, "The God of all grace shall restore us and complete us."

II. OUR FLUCTUATIONS WILL BE STEADIED. The God of all grace will stablish us. The assurance comes with special force from the life of the apostle whose earlier character had been marked by such extreme variations, and by such an enormous difference between high and low water. If ever there was a believer whose impulsiveness needed steadying, it was the man who is denying his Master from fear of a maidservant's sharp tongue less than four and twenty hours after he had bragged that, whoever fled, he would stand by him. Such quick alternations of hot and cold fits indicate a character very lovable, no doubt, in its transparency and in its generous impulses, but needing much painful discipline, before it can be consolidated into "rock," and Peter deserve his new name. There are many indications in this Epistle that the result had been attained, and that Peter's assurance here is in some measure a transcript of his own experience. But however that may be, the operation of the grace of God is to give firmness and solidity of character, both as against our own vacillations, and as against outward oppositions which bring a constant pressure against us to move us from our foundation. So long as we are on this earth and in this body, we shall be subject to variations both in the clearness of our perceptions of religious truth and in the warmth of our religious emotions, but God's grace is able to diminish the range of our thermometers, so that there shall not be so many degrees between the summer maximum and the winter minimum, and to bring about a gradual approximation to a uniformity in which emotion shall be converted into steadfast principle. If we are to be thus established, we must open our hearts for the entry of the grace which will steady us, and so we find, a verse or two before our text, that the apostle has bid his readers be "steadfast in the faith," where he employs a word which is cognate with that here used. Faith knits us to God, anti sets wide the portals of the heart that the flood of his power may enter in. If we trust him, he will hold us up. If we set the Lord at our right hands, we shall not be moved. Our hearts are changeful, and our temperaments may be impulsive and fickle, but God's grace is given us to help us to conquer our temperaments and change our dispositions. If we will let it work its work upon us, it will make us partakers of an inviolable and unshaken evenness of soul, which is a faint shadow of God's own unchangeableness.

III. OUR WEAKNESSES WILL BE STRENGTHENED. Our manifold need may be contemplated in yet another aspect. We are weak, and we need strength. If we measure our power compared with what we have to do, still more as compared with what we have to resist and suffer, how disproportionate it is! Heavy tasks have to be done, hard battles to be fought, bitter sorrows to be borne and "who is sufficient for these things?" Our weakness is our misery, and often it is our sin. It comes partly from the natural limits of our powers, but far more from the enfeebling influence of living to self, which, like fever, burns away energy and leaves us exhausted. What we are unfit by nature to do is not duty to do. It may be and often is duty to attempt what seems more than we can manage, and experience confirms faith in the expectation that power grows in the effort. But that which is plainly beyond our measure is not binding on us. God never bids us do what he does not strengthen us to do. And the feeblest Christian may cherish the triumphant assurance given to us all here that he will get all the power he needs for work, warfare, and sorrow. How will the strength come? It will be breathed into us by the communication of the mighty Spirit who dwells in all Christian souls. He is the Comforter, in the proper meaning of that word - the Strengthener, by whose companionship all weakness is invigorated, and the whole nature quickened into higher energy. We shall be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. It will come by the increase of faith; for dependence on God of itself brings strength, and to be persuaded that we have him to lean on makes the weak strong. It will come from self-control and self-denial; for the life purged of that taint is strong.

"My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure." An indwelling God will be the glory of our strength, and, possessing his grace, "the weakest may be as David, and David as an angel of God."

IV. WE SHALL BE FIXED ON THE FOUNDATION. The Revised Version omits the word "settle," and is probably correct in doing so. In addition to the external evidence against it, we may notice that. it conveys an idea of a somewhat different order to those of the preceding verbs, inasmuch as it introduces the thought of a foundation external to us, while they pointed entirely to inward processes. That very difference in the point of view may have been the reason for the insertion of the word, which, even if it be spurious, conveys a very striking and important concluding thought. All the preceding assurances will only be realized in proportion as we are fixed and abide on the one foundation. This unmoved repose on it is expressed by that final word "settle." All repair of our manifold imperfections and sins, all fixity of character and purpose, all strength for service or for suffering, comes from union with Christ the Foundation. Our organic oneness with him is not only like the resting of a building on the rock, it is like the rooting of a tree in the ground from which it draws nourishment; and, more wonderful still, is like the union of a branch with the stem from which it draws life. If we rest by faith on Jesus Christ, we have a basis for our thoughts, a foundation on which we can build holy, strenuous, and blessed lives. We have union with the personal Source of all completeness, of all resolute self-command and heroic persistence, as well as of all strength. If we keep near to Christ, his life will pass into our deadness, and all our needs will be supplied flora that fullness of which all who believe receive, and grace for grace. - A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

WEB: But may the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

The Good and Means of Establishment
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