1 Peter 4.7-9 ESV The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Life is short. The time you have with family and friends and in this world, is short. Even if the end of this age is not in the next few months, years or decades, our time on earth is short, like a vapor that appears for a moment and then is gone. Therefore, seeing that our time on earth is so short, we should live lives of self-control and be sober-minded for the sake of prayer. Prayer is a vital aspect of having healthy relationships with people. There are fleshly motivations, self-centered perspectives, as well as active and intelligent demonic forces that seek to destroy fellowship between people and with God. So we must live self-controlled, sober-mined lives for the sake of good prayer, focused prayer and effective prayer. An important part of having good fellowship with God and people is having a good prayer life.
Loving one another earnestly means our relationships can survive a multitude of sins, because love covers a multitude of sins. This does not mean that we condone sin, but it means that our relationships with others can survive the reality of sin, with which we all have to battle. Without earnest, sincere and authentic love, relationships will be poisoned by the reality of sin. No one is perfect, though we strive for perfection. If we expect others to be perfect, to never sin, to never disappoint us, to never hurt us, to never misunderstand us or misinterpret our motives or our words, then relationship will suffer, and possibly disintegrate. Why are there so many broken relationships? Why so many broken friendships, broken marriages, rifts between parents and children, siblings and church members? Probably because sin is a malady that affects us all, and unless we learn to love one another fervently, this reality of sin, this poison of sin, will destroy relationships. If we learn to love one another earnestly, relationships can survive and even thrive in spite of our continuing struggle to overcome selfishness and the messiness of human frailty.
We should show hospitality without grumbling, and this is more than just having people over for a drink or a meal. Hospitality is sometimes thought of as entertaining, throwing a party, or having friends over. It may be that in a superficial way, but remember that hospitality has the word “hospital” in it. Showing hospitality means to help people in the midst of their pain, to minister to people in the midst of their weakness and infirmity, to help people find strength and healing in their struggle with injury. If we think of hospitality as that of working with a patient at a hospital, we will probably be far more patient with those we live around, live with, and are called to love. Most people have suffered some kind of trauma in their lives, somewhere along the way, whether in childhood, in a work setting, among friends, or even at church. Many people live in a state of emotional or spiritual or relational handicap due to these hurts and traumas either from the past or in the present. If we can approach our relationship with people with kindness and understanding, a listening ear, a compassionate heart, and ideally with words and actions that can help bring healing to the heart and mind, then we will experience a deep fellowship with others as we become a conduit of the love and healing that God can bring through us.
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” 1 Peter 2.1
Whether we like it or not, and whether we know it or not, we are all in the midst of a serious and dangerous war. It is a war for our souls. If we do not realize that there are strong spiritual beings, intelligent forces at work to destroy us, to damage us, to undermine our lives, our minds, our hearts, our relationships, and our eternal destiny, then we will be casual or completely unaware and complacent about these active threats to our well being.
So how are we to respond to this? Are we to live in constant fear? No, we are commanded by Jesus to not be afraid. Fear is a destabilizing force, and we do not operate effectively if we allow fear to have a place in our lives. Jesus said “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me." (John 14.1)
But we should respond in vigilance, working hard to put on the whole armor of God, so that we are prepared for the opposition of evil spiritual forces that will seek to destroy us through lies and threats. We must choose to trust God and be equipped with the full armor of God.
Remember: "Put on the whole armor of God." Ephesians 6.11
When I woke up this morning, I felt the Lord was telling me it was time to get up and seek Him. It was still dark and everyone else was still asleep. Just a few seconds later, walking on the wooden floor, I got a splinter in my foot. Ouch! I was hobbled, and couldn't walk very well. It was amazing to me how such a small piece of wood could prevent me from walking very well, and I knew my top priority needed to be getting that splinter out of my foot. I also knew I was going to need a bright light and some very precise tweezers to get this debilitating piece of wood out of my foot. So I got my phone with it's bright LED light, and I got my good tweezers, and went to another room where I could operate on my foot and restore my ability to walk normally.
As soon as this happened, it seemed the Lord was telling me how critical it is that we have fitted our feet with the preparation of the good news (the gospel) of peace, as it says in Ephesians 6.15, as a critical part of the whole armor of God. As ministers of the good news of peace, we need to be well prepared to proclaim the same. If we are not prepared to teach, to speak, to proclaim the good news of peace with God through the work of Christ on the cross, which gives us access to God, then we will not be able to accomplish all that God wants us to accomplish for his Kingdom. We will not be able to go the places God wants us to go. Can you imagine an member of the infantry, a soldier, wearing no shoes? It is likely that a soldier wearing no shoes would be in great danger of being eliminated by the enemy. He would not be able to make much progress as his feet would be vulnerable to even the smallest irregularities on the terrain. He could be quickly hobbled by his own weight as his feet stepped on a sharp stone, a stick, or some other object on the ground. A soldier that had the most sophisticated weapons in the world, if barefoot, would quickly become immobilized and in danger of elimination or severe injury. At best, he would probably have to hide somewhere, outside of the active battle zone, so as not to be killed or severely injured. He would likely be ineffective at completing his mission, and his very life could be in danger.
Think of it: If we want to be serious about taking the Good News of peace to those who do not know the love of Christ, we must have our feet well fitted with the preparation of the Good News. We need to have the equipment on our feet, infantry boots, that are strong and resistant to unexpected irregularities and foreign objects on the ground, things that could damage the feet and make forward movement difficult if not impossible. We need to be able to explain the good news of how Christ makes us righteous as we put our faith in his perfect sacrifice on our behalf and his resurrection from the dead. We need to be prepared to answer people's questions. We need to find out what it is that we fear about speaking and proclaiming the Gospel, so that we can be prepared to face those fears and overcome them. We need to get a bright light, letting the Spirit of God search our hearts, to show us what are the ways that we are ill-prepared to speak and share and the Good News? Then we need to remove any source of pain in our feet, anything that is hindering us and our ability to keep moving out with the Good News of the peace of God that is available to all through Christ.
There is a command to obey here: "Have your feet fitted with the preparation of the good news of peace." Ephesians 6.15