Commentary on 1 Peter 4.
Having been born without arms, there are many things that offered quite a challenge when it came to trying to do them with my feet. Often people will ask me, “What is the hardest thing that you have had to learn to do with your feet?” That is a question that I can answer without an ounce of pause. The hardest thing I have ever had to learn to do is open doors.
Opening doors for everyone with arms is an action that I am sure is almost an afterthought– simply walk up to the door, grab the doorknob, twist, and pull or push. For me, the first thing I had to do was condition my body to physically pull it off. I struggled to get my body to the point that I could comfortably stand on my left leg while I reached up with my right foot to twist the door knob and pull the door open with my leg.
Was it hard? Yes. Was it a long learning curve? Yes. Was the struggle worth it? Absolutely. This struggle of opening doors—an act that many take for granted—was an exercise in perseverance that allowed me to live independently because I was willing to use what I had available to me to get the job done. My act of opening doors does not look like the way other people open doors. It is easier for them. It is faster for them. There is no need to compare and contrast because we all manage to open doors.
Our skill sets are different in all sorts of venues, the church included. We are all given different gifts and abilities that we can put to use to make Jesus known and encourage the church. Peter gives us a charge to put those gifts to use in 1 Peter 4:7-11:
“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Live With the End in Mind
As Peter begins to push us to use whatever we have for the glory of God, He reminds us of the fact that Jesus is coming back and that it might be sooner than we think. Jesus also reminds us of the short amount of time that we have to share the gospel when He says in John 9:4, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”
The brevity of this life must be a factor into why and how we share the gospel with people. We simply do not know how much time we have with our neighbors, our friends, and our family. With that small window of time in mind, we must be faithful to share the best news the world has ever known at every opportunity and in every meaningful relationship that we have.
Use What You Have
There is a rampant misconception in the church today that people believe that the only helpful roles that one can have in the church are pastor, worship leader, small group facilitator, deacon, or family ministry volunteer. If our gifting and passion does not fall into any of those roles the thought is that there is no place for people like us inside the church.
That is just a downright lie. There is no need to confine the gifting and roles within the church to just a handful of options. There is no reason to create a hierarchy of gifts and compare them as if some are better and more glorious than others. As Paul puts it in Romans 12:6a, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.” You may have the gift of faith or the gift of serving. You may be a powerful encourager or an amazing listener. Whatever you have and whatever you love—use it to make Jesus known.
He is My Everything
It is an easy thing to entrust all of our good gifts over to God because they all come from Him in the first place—“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (Jas.1:17a). It is by His grace that I am who I am and that I have what I have. He is both my supply and my goal in life.
Trust your life and talents into His hands. Trust Him with your good days and your bad days. Trust Him with your conversations and your mundane tasks. Whatever you face today and wherever the day may lead—use what you have for His purposes and He will use you to change the world.