1 Peter 4:7-11
But the end of all things is at hand: be you therefore sober, and watch to prayer.…
I. THE CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGE. The text first of all speaks of receiving — that is the privilege to which it points. We get in order that we may give; but we can give nothing until we are first of all put into possession. And what the Christian does receive, he accepts as a gift — not as the equivalent of service rendered, or achievements accomplished, or worth acknowledged — but as a something to which he has no sort of claim, sent down out of that boundless Divine treasury which the apostle, at the end of the text, describes as "the manifold grace of God." Whatever gift you have, it is of God's sending: all spiritual endowment and all natural capacity, your influence, your wealth, your leisure, your power of speech, or action, or organisation; all is God's giving; you have won nothing, deserved nothing. You have received all, freely, unconditionally, as so many pledges and foretastes of "the manifold grace of God." We all have gift, and all we have is gift. And the dissimilarity in individual cases is the most patent fact in experience. One man can do good work at home, another finds his proper element in the school, or in the streets, or the cottage meeting.
II. THE OBLIGATION. "As ye have received even so minister." God's gift then is not intended to terminate with ourselves. It is not meant for self-gratification, least of all for personal parade. It begins with the individual always; it ends with him never. This is involved in the ultimate aim of Christianity itself. The apostle asks us only to give out what and as we take in. "As every one hath received, minister the same." Give in measure and in kind as ye have received. Give what you have got, and do not distress yourself because you cannot give something else which you do not have. However much you admire another man's gift, and profit by it, there is no call to imitate it. Do what you can, and you will do as well as the brother whose work you so greatly appreciate. You will receive as high a reward and as lofty a commendation.
III. And now notice THE CHRISTIAN POSITION. The redeemed are required to be "good stewards of the manifold grace of God." Now, a steward is not an absolute owner but a responsible administrator. And all gifts, according to the apostle, are trusts. No Christian in his view gets his natural talents or material possessions, still less his spiritual endowments, for himself alone. This is the position here set forth; but how miserably its obligation is responded to. How scant a return does our stewardship yield.
Parallel VersesKJV: But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.