Monday, 9 December 2019
As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:10
Peter now gives a reasonable explanation for the courteous behavior he just exhorted his reader to display by saying, “As each one has received a gift.” What gift has been given has been left indeterminate by Peter. He simply says, “a gift.” Unfortunately, the older KJV uses the definite article, “the gift.” This causes a confused reading of Peter’s intent, as if there is a particular gift which has been received.
What is true, however, is that every saved believer has received a gift, even if it is only the gift of grace bestowed upon him by God in Christ. Supposing he cannot think of anything else he excels at, he can at least display grace towards others, just as he himself has received.
Whether only this, or one of a list of gifts noted by Peter or by Paul elsewhere, Peter says to “minster it to one another.” A gift which is hoarded has value only to the recipient, and if it goes unused, its value actually diminishes. If one has received grace, and he fails to grant it to others, the grace which was received will soon be considered as having been deserved. A person who has the gift of excellent speech could increase the blessing to others many times over. But if it is unused, the eloquence of the tongue will begin to fade.
Therefore, it is the wise person who takes the gift he possesses and passes it on to others. In doing so, others will be blessed, and the giver will be strengthened in the gift he possesses. Peter continues by saying that each one should do this “as good stewards.”
A steward is a person who tends to others. Therefore, the gift is not intended to end with the recipient of the grace. Nor is he the originator of the grace, as if he is the ultimate benefactor who is to be praised for his granting of it to others. Rather, a steward is one who carries out a duty on behalf of another – receiving and passing on as intended. And what he has received is that which consists “of the manifold grace of God.”
The word translated as “manifold” signifies “of various kinds.” One can think of a tapestry of many colors, each providing the eye with delight. Or maybe one could think of a bowl of many different types of ice cream, each providing a unique and tasty sensation.
Thus, the “manifold grace of God” is not specifically speaking of the grace which leads a sinner to salvation, but of the display of God’s care and love for His creatures which is transmitted to and through them for their doctrine, comfort, guidance, healing, and etc.
Life application: Each of us has been given different likes and different abilities. These are gifts from God, and He asks us to use them in a way which will return glory to Him. Several times in his epistles, Paul lists gifts useful to the church. Here is his list from Romans 12:6-8 –
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
As you notice, these are the same gifts found in the secular world (prophecy, in this case, can be equated with public speaking). The difference then between our abilities and those of non-Christians is that we, as Christians, are to use them for the glory of God.
Instead of using our God-given gifts and talents only for our own benefit, we are now to exercise them –
1) to the glory of God’s grace in our life, and
2) for the ministering of others.
Are you a salesclerk? Then sell with cheer and by bringing Christian light into your store. Are you a lawyer? Then administer your gift in a way which will define proper ethical behavior. Are you a service technician? Then conduct your job knowing that God has blessed the work of your hands when you do it for His glory. Whatever your life’s work and skills are, remember to exercise them to the honor of the Lord who has delivered you into His eternal kingdom!
Heavenly Father, sometimes we look at other jobs that people have and think they must be closer to you because of what they do – preaching, working in a church, or serving as a missionary. But Your word shows us that we can bring just as much glory to You in the work we do. Please give us the opportunity to share Your gospel right from our place of work, by living as Christians filled with the hope we possess because of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.