DAILY DEVOTION - JUNE 1
Listen to excerpts from today's daily devotion on this video.
This Daily Devotion is from A Living Hope, by Sarah Viggiano Wright, published by Bible Study Media, and made available to us through Presbyterian Women.
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”
1 Peter 4:7
If you’ve been in many high-traffic areas, you’ve likely encountered someone wearing a sandwich board or holding a sign that says, “Repent, for the end is near!”
I cannot attest to the effectiveness of such signs, especially when you see people averting their eyes or giving these sign holders a wide berth. But the idea is to make others so aware of an upcoming reality that it sparks an instant change or at least a real consideration of change. It’s meant to be powerful.
In today’s reading, we have Peter saying something eerily similar: “The end of all things is at hand...” Why would Peter use a phrase like this in a letter of encouragement to these exiled believers?
The apostle has been talking about suffering in both private and public spheres for the sake of Christ. There is nothing we can do to get around the suffering, as following in Christ’s example puts us on this path of the suffering servant. But Peter repeatedly makes mention of a mindset or an attitude that we are to have in order to endure. As you and I both know, to truly endure suffering, we need more than some hollow religious platitude. We need a deep, truthful, transcendent perspective to helps us frame what we are going through in the here-and-now. For earthly endurance, we need a heavenly perspective.
So how are we to achieve a heavenly mindset? In today’s single verse, Peter highlights three tangible, active ways for us to get and keep a heavenly perspective: keep the end in view, keep a clear mind, and keep in prayer.
Keeping the end in mind means being aware that the end is near or, as Philippians 4:5 says, remembering that “The Lord is at hand.” But what does that mean and why does that matter? The word “end” has three possible interpretations here: the termination of something, the last stage of a process, or the outcome. However, in this passage, the “end” is obviously referencing the return of Jesus, his coming back in glory to make all things right and to rule and reign forever, so understanding this verse to refer to the termination of the world is incorrect. This “end” is so much more than an end.
In fact, it is not an “end” at all (except with regard to sin, brokenness, and evil). Of the three possible interpretations above, the last two definitions apply. The “end” here is the final stage of the redemption process—the pre-Consummation period of history that we are in right now (i.e., “the Kingdom is at hand...” Matthew 3:2). It is also the ultimate goal or outcome of the salvation process. The “end” outcome of the redemptive process is the full and final salvation of all things. Peter is saying that, because of the resurrection, his readers are living in the last stage of God’s redemptive plan. They need to keep the end result of full salvation in the forefront of their minds.
The Greek word telos is used here, and it’s the same root from which we get the word “telescope.” A telescope brings what is far near and what is at the end to the the forefront—and that is what this verse is meant to do as well.
The return of Jesus is not just a promise to keep tucked away in the back of our minds. It is a truth that is meant to transform us and embolden us to cast off the old actions (4:3) and give birth to new actions, specifically acts of service and stewardship (vv. 7–11). Mentioning this “end” stage of the process before the “end” result creates a sense of urgency for changing their behaviors. Peter said these words intending to shape the behavior and actions of his readers right now (cf. Week Two, Day 1).
So, the signs and sandwich boards we encounter should really say, “Repent, for the redemption period is at hand!” Or they should accurately quote Matthew 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Now, why is it important to keep the end in view? Because our telos (purpose) affects our praxis (practice)—our end goal affects our actions. The final result shapes our present decisions. So, says Peter, we need to keep the end in view.
Second, we are to keep a clear mind, which really goes together with the third way to keep a heavenly mindset: keep in prayer. We must keep a clear mind in order to keep in prayer. “Therefore, be sober-minded and self-controlled for the sake of your prayers” (v. 7). Just as we are to be clear-headed and in control when we drive, we are to be just as earnest and clear-headed in our lives. Why? Peter says, for the sake of our prayers.
Prayer is the type of action that merits our full awareness and attention. And, even after we are in prayer, the requests we lift up to the Lord don’t just vanish—many of them require further action as we are led by the Holy Spirit. Connecting to God and seeking out his will and mission through prayer becomes the launchpad of our actions, as God reveals how we are to use our resources for his ends. We are to be clear-minded so that we can be attentive to how God is shaping us and calling us into action and service through our prayer life. Prayer is the first step, but not the final step.
As we reflect on Peter’s words, let me pose a few questions here: When people ask us to pray, are we really praying? Do we mention concerns in prayer the way we check off a “to-do” list? Or, are we earnest in meeting with the Lord over the issues before us and our neighbors? Are we cultivating deep and meaningful prayer in our homes, churches, small groups, and friend groups? Do we really consider prayer a powerful response to the brokenness of the world? Is prayer our last resort? Or is it the necessary first step before all other actions, continually repeated throughout the process? And, when our prayers call us into service, are we responsive and obedience to the Spirit’s urging?
You will not be called to the front lines of every battle for which you’re asked to pray; sometimes you will just pray. But you can ask God to call and raise up others to fight or serve as needed in his redemptive response to every issue you encounter.
Remember, stay sober-minded and stay in prayer because, after all, “The end of all things is at hand!”