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1 Peter 4:10 Deep Dive // Why Serve?

"To use the things that he has given us for the benefit of others and for the praise of his glory. That is what we are called to do." — Natalie Abbott

This month on the podcast, we’re talking all about gifts. God tells us in his Word that he has given all of us gifts, but in a world where we are bombarded with messages to live our best lives, focus on our own happiness, and put ourselves first, we can easily miss the why behind the gifts God has given. Natalie Abbott, co-founder of Dwell Differently, walks us through the context of 1 Peter 4:10, helping us understand what this verse is saying and what it means for how we live our lives. If you’re stuck living with a scarcity mindset or just need a bit of encouragement to rediscover the joy of using your gifts to serve others, you’re in the right place!

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Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. — 1 Peter 4:10

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT: Hey, welcome back to the Dwell Differently podcast. I'm your host, Natalie Abbott, and it is the 1st week of May, so it's the beginning of our new month and our new verse. It's Spring outside and it is beautiful. And how do I know? Because my back is itchy with poison ivy! I cannot stop scratching. It’s so terrible.But there are wonderful, beautiful things about Spring. We see the flowers bursting out of the earth. We see the birds singing and all of these various beautiful, glorious gifts that God has given us. (READ MORE)

And actually, that's what we're talking about this month. We are talking about the various gifts, not in creation, but in our own lives.

The gifts that God has given us, the grace gifts that we can use to serve other people. So, without further ado, the verse we're memorizing comes from 1 Peter 4:10. It says this, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms."

So, did you hear that? We have been given gifts. God has given us these gifts. Why? To serve others as faithful stewards, not owners of God's grace in its various— in other words, multifaceted, all kinds of different ways— in its various forms. All right, so that's what we're talking about today. But before we kind of hone in on that very specific verse let's talk about where this is situated in the Bible.

This comes from 1 Peter. Peter, one of Jesus's disciples, some of you would remember—he's the guy who Jesus called out on the water, who walked on the water and then kind of sank down. He's also the guy who denied Christ. He is the leader of the church, the first original leader of the church.

And so Peter is writing a letter[00:02:00] after Jesus has been crucified and he has died and has been resurrected and ascended into heaven. So, this is some years later and he's writing a letter to people who have been scattered about in various regions that are not Jewish regions, and he's talking to believers that are all around these other places kind of in these little pockets of believers among very worldly, non-believers. Okay?

And he is encouraging them throughout this letter to walk in the grace that they have received because of the grace of Christ, because of what they have been given, he's holding out for them this encouragement to live differently. Walk like Jesus. Live like he lived.

And so, we're going to go straight into our passage, which is in 1 Peter 4. He does talk about several different points, Christian living and how we should do that. But we're going to focus on chapter four, and we're going to read just a little bit of the surrounding verses from our passage just to kind of see a glimpse of what it was like in this time and what Peter is kind of speaking into. The culture that he's speaking into, like I said, is a non-believing culture and it's actually a very self-focused culture, which sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? So let me just read a couple verses from the passages kind of directly before our verse so that we can get an idea of, the two lifestyles that are on offer here, and Peter's encouragement to the followers of Christ to live in a way that honors God—so not in the first way, which we're going to hear about now. Peter says in, 1 Peter chapter four. "Therefore, since Christ suffered in the body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin". [00:04:00] i.e., you should be done with sin. "As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires."

So, that's the one way —not living for our own desires, but rather, so they don't live their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what Pagans choose to do,” pagans being the people around the culture that they're living in.

The people who are not following God, they are living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies carousing and detestable idolatry. I like how the ESV says it. They say that “they live for their own passions.” It's this idea that they are living for themselves. And then in verse four says, they are surprised.

They're surprised that you don't join them in their reckless, wild living and they heap abuse on you. So not only are these, kind of scattered Christians living in these pockets among a wild and reckless lifestyle type of culture—A very selfish, self-absorbed, you know, chase your own passions kind of culture, they are also living in opposition and the people that they're living among, they are surprised. They don't understand why these Christians wouldn't join in their wild living, and therefore they heap abuses on them, right? Because they're like, why wouldn't you do that? That's ridiculous. Why?

You know, you should be coming out with us and doing all the things that we are doing. Why would you not live for yourself? And I love this context because I feel like it is very relatable for us as people who are living in a current culture of [00:06:00] a self-focus, self-absorbed lifestyle. Our culture tells us, go after your passions. You be you, follow your heart or in other words, your desires, whatever it is that you want to do. If it's to get drunk, get drunk. If it's to live sensually, live sensually. Whatever it is that your heart desires, that's the highest order and that is how you should live. So that's the first lifestyle that Peter presents.

And he says, don’t fall into that trap. Do not live that way. He says, you've already spent enough time doing that, right? He says, you know, in verse three, you have spent enough time in the past doing what Pagans choose to do. You remember that lifestyle and it was not good. It did not go well for you.

Don't forget, don't look at those times and be like, ‘oh, the good old days.’ They were not the good old days. They were filled with recklessness, with out-of-control living, and that is not what God has for you. So, what does Peter say to do instead if we go on to the next paragraph, he says, right before our verse, he says, “The end of all things is near," in verse seven.

"Therefore, be alert, and of sober mind, so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. And each of you,", this is our verse. "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.".

We're going to keep reading in just a minute and, and look at what those various forms are, but do you hear what Peter is calling [00:08:00] them to do? He's calling them to hold others above ourselves. And like he said in the verse above, when he gives us sort of this call for how we should live, he says, "Do not live the rest of your earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God."

So, what is the will of God? What is this contrasting lifestyle? It's not to live for yourself, but it's to love others. And as our verse says, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." It reminds me of the verse that says, “we are therefore God's ambassadors.”

Right? We have been sent out by God as representatives of this grace that he has given us of this beautiful message that I love you and I want you. And because that Big G Grace is so beautiful because we know that we do not deserve the love of God, we want to live differently and God empowers us to live differently.

So, these are the two contrasting lifestyles. We're not going to spend any more time on that first lifestyle, but I would just say that that first lifestyle is like a reservoir. It is living in a scarcity mindset. It is building up a dam and saying that any good things that I have- I am going to hold onto those.

Those are for me. I am going to hoard them. And, it becomes this very ugly, self-absorbed, and actually very out of control kind of lifestyle. And in our seeking to control and to grab on and to hold whatever we can get; we end up losing everything. But God says, no, don't live like that. You should live like a river.

So, the [00:10:00] grace that I have given you should flow out of you and be grace to other people. Do not hoard up. Do not hold on to these beautiful gifts that I have given you. Instead, give them away. And there you will find life. That is the beauty of the Christian lifestyle. And so, let's look at our verse more specifically.

One of the things I want you to see in our verse in verse 10, I want you to hear me read it again, and I want you to listen to the word gift and the word grace. And I'm going to tell you ahead of time that those two words are very similar in Greek. They have the same root, and so that word ‘gift’ could more fully be translated ‘grace gift’.

Okay? So, it's an undeserved gift that we've been given. If you heard it in the original Greek, you would see the relationship between the word gift and grace. But in English, we don't really see it. I'm going to read it to you again, and I want you to hear it. "Each of you should use whatever grace gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." so the gifts that we have been given, in other words, our abilities, the things that we are able to do to serve God, such as to teach or to speak or to host people or to serve others. Those are a grace to us.

Those are given to us by God as a means of serving other people as faithful stewards. A steward is not an owner. It's like a servant. It's somebody who's been entrusted with something, some awesome treasure, well, God has given you these grace gifts in various forms. And then it goes on in verse 11 and says, "If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very word of God.

If anyone serves, they should do [00:12:00] so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." Where does our ability come from? It comes from God. It's a gift of grace. And how do we serve with those grace gifts that we have been? Through the strength of Jesus. He’s the one who is empowering us by His Holy Spirit, with his strength to serve others.

He's the one giving us his very words when we speak. Why? "So that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ, to him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen." And that is how our little section ends out. How do we understand this? What does this all mean for us? Well, I would say, first off, when you think about the talents that you have, the time that you have, everything that you have—it is all a gift.

And just to give you some idea of some of these varied gifts, there are other places in the scriptures that talk about them. I'm going to read  a couple verses from Romans 12:6-8. It says, "We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If one's gift is prophecy, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve. If it is teaching, let him teach. If it is encouraging, let him encourage. If it is giving, let him give generously. If it is leading, let him lead with diligence. If it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." Do you see all of those various kinds of gifts that these people have been given?

That's what we're talking about here. Encouraging, leading, showing mercy, being generous, speaking, serving, being hospitable. Any and every single thing that we have been given, we are a steward of. Not an owner of, but a steward. [00:14:00] And God says, be a faithful steward. Use these gifts. Peter is saying, instead of living for yourself, instead of pursuing your own desires and passions, pursue the will of God. And what is God's will?

To use the things that he has given us for the benefit of others and for the praise of his glory. That is what we are called to do.

I just want to read that ending to you again in our passage. I want you to hear it because I just think it's so beautiful. "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards. Of God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very word of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen."

Did you hear that? All things come from God and all things are for him. It reminds me of this beautiful passage at the end of Romans chapter 11.

It's one of my favorite sections of Scripture, and I'm just going to close us out by reading that to you. It is a doxology, which just is a little tiny, all-encompassing way of praising God together. I would love for you to just hear these words and praise God with me that God has given us all of these things for his glory. They have all come through him and they are all for him. So hear, Romans chapter 11:33-36;

"Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how [00:16:00] unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out. Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen."

Guys, I am just so excited as we continue to dive into this verse. It is definitely a verse that is going to help us think about how God has gifted us. But ultimately those gifts are not from us. They are not for us. And, nothing that we do is through our own strength or our own power that all things are from God.

They are all through him, and they are all ultimately for him and for his glory. As we delve into this verse, as we consider what it means, I would just pray that for you and for myself, that we wouldn't get too self-focused, but that we would recognize that these gifts are from the Lord.

They are a grace to us and they are an example of his big G grace in our lives. The grace that we experience through Jesus, who gave us what we didn't deserve, who gave us love and acceptance and kindness, and even these spiritual gifts that we can serve others with. Thanks for joining me today.

I'm so excited for our next episode. Stick around and check that one out next week. It is with Heather MacFadyen. She is from Don't Mom Alone. For those of you who follow her, she has a new book coming out and she talks a lot about these gifts and how we can use them for others.

Dwell Blog/Podcast Featured Content

Natalie Abbott

Natalie Abbott is the co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Dwell Differently. She lives in Missouri with her husband and 5 kids.

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