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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.

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 4:8–11

Peter has just explained that, in our prayers and actions, we are to stay mindful of God’s perspective—keep the “end” in mind. Peter continues preparing his readers for living in this redemption period with his encouragement that we are to be about Christ’s service.

Peter’s words in today’s reading target our hearts.

The apostle begins with “[K]eep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sin.” Peter’s use of the Greek here is very interesting. Accompanying the word agape (love) is the word ektenē, translated as “earnestly,” and this word has momentum to it. So we are to love more and more earnestly, fervently, intently, zealously, and intensely, to maximum potential.

“Love one another earnestly” describes a vigorous activity, like that of an Olympic-level athlete poised at the starting line, leaning forward and ready to launch into action the moment the gun fires. Our love is to be a practical and active love, like a tensed muscle ready to spring.

Why does Peter say we are to love earnestly? Because “love covers a multitude of sins.” Love covers over, or envelops, the Christian and the Christian community. Biblical scholar Karen Jobes says that the notion of love “covering” here is a reference to Proverbs 10:12, which says, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” This verse encourages us to seek good, even in the face of offense.

Now, for an important distinction: cover over is not to cover up. Covering up is to ignore or deny the offense. That is actually the opposite of what covering over does. Covering over is honest about the offense, yet it is willing to accept the faults of others, forgiving others their offenses and asking forgiveness of ours. It doesn’t allow for separation, dissension, or hatred within the Christian community, but honestly confronts sin with the hope of reconciliation and restoration. After all, is this not the way that Christ covers us?

Another active love Peter asks us to demonstrate is hospitality, as a way of life. He says simply, “Be hospitable...” (NASB). Hospitality comes from the Greek philoxenoi, literally meaning “love of strangers.” Hospitality is not a hobby; it is a characteristic and call for all Christians! While some are more naturally gifted at carrying out this command, it’s an imperative for the entire Christian community: be hospitable to one another without complaint. Love others sacrificially without wishing you didn’t have to.

Hospitality is a gift we give to others or receive from them, but it is so much more than that! In the Ancient Near East, hospitality shown to a traveler after a long journey meant a place of shade, nourishment, and safety—a place to rest and recover. It would have been restorative, which is a key principle behind this act of service. Further, Peter’s call to hospitality goes beyond the call to open your home—it is a call to open your heart. It is a call to serve and revive anyone with loving kindness, from the most impressive to the seemingly insignificant (according to the eyes of the world).

Christian, are we prepared to put ourselves out a little more? What do our ministries to students, the unmarried, and single parents look like? What about foreigners? The marginalized? The chronically disabled? Are we open to the people God is putting in our lives, even when it’s uncomfortable or difficult? We are called to give, serve, and practice a lifestyle of laying our lives down for our brothers.

This encouragement to be hospitable is not meant to discourage healthy boundaries, financial responsibility, or times of rest. These are stewardship issues, too, just as we steward our hospitality. However, I’m asking if we are making ourselves accessible to God to care for his people? Are we opening the door to our heart and life, offering others the gift of our real selves and accepting them for who they really are? Openhearted hospitality is a privilege of serving with and alongside Christ and it’s the key to understanding what Peter means by stewardship in verse 10: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards...”

From this verse, we see that the gifts Peter is about to list (and ones listed elsewhere in Scripture) have a joint purpose: stewardship and the service of others. Our gifts are to benefit the Christian community! By its brevity alone, we know this list is not comprehensive. Rather, Peter is highlighting principles for and the purpose of gifts in general. Gifts are to be used for others, to the glory of God.

The first principle to note about gifts is that we received them, as verse 10 states. Just as 1 Corinthians 4:7 says, “What do you have that you did not receive?” Gifts are not earned, but given; we use them humbly, relying on God because he supplies the strength we need to serve (v. 11). The second principle is that we are stewarding a variety of gifts in unique ways, for the benefit of others, making the Christian community completely interdependent by design. We need each other. The third principle is that we are to faithfully administer these gifts. We are to use them! It is up to us and the church to cultivate, develop, and exercise all the gifts responsibly in community, even when it requires sacrifice.

These three principles of gifts—we receive gifts, they are to benefit others, and we are to use them—help us stay faithful to the work of Jesus we’re called to continue in the world. Notice who the key actor is here—we receive gifts from him and we rely on him to give us the strength and ability to use these gifts. It’s God! We receive God’s gifts to be exercised through God’s strength in service of God’s people.

These principles also help us grasp the purpose of service. What is the purpose of service? It’s the same as the supreme purpose of all humanity: doxology—to glorify God (v. 11). Our life of service is to render the praise that God deserves while experiencing the joy of knowing and serving him.

When an orchestra plays, there are several families of instruments: wind, brass, strings, and percussion. But at the end of the piece, who gets the praise, even from the musicians? The conductor. All the instruments played in harmony create beautiful music, but it’s the conductor who signals each section when to play, sets the tempo, and indicates to each group when to play forte and when to back off and let another set of instruments shine. It’s the conductor who has the grand view of the entire orchestra and it’s the conductor all the musicians must follow in order to play a rousing symphony.

Our Great Orchestrator gave us our instruments and our roles in his concert, and it is our privilege to play for him!

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