7 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. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 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 4:7-11 (ESV)
“The end of all things is at hand…” From these words, Peter communicates an urgency for Christians to live according to the command to “love one another earnestly.” Does your faith have this urgency? Do you really expect the end to come any day? Whatever your answer, the New Testament writers all agree: the end is near. And it’s getting nearer every day.
Why does this matter? Because if the end is truly near, then we have good reason to change the way we live today. People who are told they have a terminal illness live life differently. They stop doing things which they don’t find fulfilling. Their every action is filtered through a new lens: “If I died tomorrow, would I be happy that I am doing this today?”
The apostles urge us to ask something similar: “If Christ returned tomorrow, would He be happy with what He saw you doing today?” Or maybe equally important, “If Christ returned tomorrow, would you be happy with what He found you doing today? Are we bringing Him glory?” If kids get home from school before their parents get off work, do they dutifully get started on homework right away? Or do they relax until right before mom and dad get home? It depends on the kid. Do employees work harder when their boss is around? Again, it depends on the employee. But the motivation is the same: “Let’s work later… and enjoy ourselves now.”
This is a powerful temptation, and maybe you’ve given into it from time to time. Peter treats it as a matter of self-control and sober-mindedness. Do we have the self-control to restrain these temptations? Are we sober-minded enough to see the world as it really is—as if it’s ending soon—or do we waste the precious time which has been given to us? Time isn’t the only gift which we are encouraged to use wisely. We each have talents and treasures as well, gifts which we are urged to use to love others and bring glory to God. I don’t believe Peter means to scare us with these words; he wants to encourage. All Christians are called to be responsible with their lives, because He will return soon. But we live this way not because we fear being caught; we live this way, because we hope. When our Lord comes again, we are promised that our work will be tested and our sacrifices proven worthwhile (see 1 Corinthians 3). On that day, our service will truly bring Him glory.
And this means that our lives in the present age matter. As we wait for His return, may God richly bless your work. It may not be easy. But it is worth it. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
God’s Peace, Pastor Josh Reifsteck