1 Peter 4:7-11
But the end of all things is at hand: be you therefore sober, and watch to prayer.…
The "grace of God" means His liberality. It is called "manifold," because God's gifts are so various in kind and in degree. They are of many descriptions, and variously proportioned. On some the Divine bounty seems to pour itself in torrents, while to others it comes in very slender rills, or apparently in drops only. Still we know that God "is good to all." And, doubtless, were the least gifted among us more quicksighted and pious, they would find themselves possessed of far more considerable gifts from God's hand than they acknowledge or discern. Our corrupt selfishness makes us dull of sight, coldhearted, and ungrateful. Now the apostle asserts, in the text, that we are all sharers in God's manifold grace. "According as every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another." He has just before been enjoining the mutual exercise of ungrudging hospitality. And afterwards he signifies, that our powers of speech and action are all to be employed in a holy and charitable manner for the welfare of our brethren, and to the glory of God our common Father, through Christ. You see, then, that to each of us is allotted a ministry. We must lay ourselves out to do good; not wait lazily for an almost constraining impulse of circumstances. And that we may be useful and not hurtful, it is our duty to ascertain what our gift is; and not to attempt what lies beyond our province, and so mar instead of making or mending. One obstacle of our own making to the useful exercise of our talents is a reluctance to cooperate with those who possess that quality which is wanting in ourselves, but which needs to be combined with ours in order to its efficiency. Now I believe that God has distributed His gifts variously for this very purpose among others, to force upon us a partnership in good works. He has made us so necessary the one to the other, that selfish separatism is hardly less consistent with human well-being than with Divine philanthropy. The man of sagacity is not always good in action: he wants an energetic coadjutor. Moses, good in counsel, requires the help of Aaron ready of speech. Nay more, it is better for the business of the world that high attributes should not be so justly blended in the several individuals, called to act an important part, as to constitute what is nearest to perfection; but rather that what is excessive in one should be balanced and corrected by an excess of another kind in his helpmate. The vehemence of Luther was a blemish in him, while Melancthon was cautious to a fault. Yet who can doubt that the glorious Reformation was better accomplished by two such fellow labourers, than it would have been by the same men, had there been an equal distribution between them of their respective characteristic properties. Such then is God's way of dispensing His gifts. He divides "to every man severally" as He pleases. In the Church He has given "some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ"; and all this is arranged with a view to unity — unity of faith, unity of love, unity of action. Nothing can be clearer than the duty of turning our means and opportunities to good account. We are prone to view our talent under false and vicious limitations; to confine our notions of the proper sphere of assiduous kindness to one's own immediate connections. The gospel vastly expands our field of duty. It urges upon us that we are all brethren. Therefore, whatever gift we possess is meant for the general welfare. Let me here say a word or two upon our accountableness. People are not seldom anxious to believe that by declining to undertake a certain work they avoid a serious responsibility. No doubt that is sometimes true. But if that work be a duty, then you cannot escape the responsibility which lies upon you to engage in it.
(J. N. Pearson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.