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God is with you - Part 30

1 Peter 4v8-11

Above all, love each other deeply

1 Peter 4v8
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

When Peter says "above all" what he's about to say must be important. And what he says is "love each other deeply".

Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another". Love for our brothers and sisters in Christ is far more important than what songs we sing, or how long we preach for (although preaching too long isn't very loving, I suppose) or when we meet, or where we meet, or how we meet. What matters, first of all, is that we love each other. Even if we don't meet, what matters first is that we love each other, but if we love each other we will meet. Any policy decision we ever take, any thought we ever have, any dream we ever have, is less important than that we love each other.

God is good to us. He tells us to love each other but He doesn't tell us to like each other. There may be someone in your church that you don't like very much, but love him or her anyway. "By this shall all men know you're my disciples...". Not if you love the nice ones, but if you love each other - all other Christians - no matter what the provocation. Love each other above all. As John said:

1 John 4:10-12
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No-one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Peter tells us that love covers over a multitude of sins. Nobody wants his sins uncovered. You don't, and your brother doesn't. So if you love your brother, you will cover his sins. You may have to speak to him privately, but you won't tell others about it. There is a limit to this; if he's damaging the church you may have to take action. But the heart of love is to cover over each other's sins. Jesus taught us to do unto others as we'd have them do unto us. If you don't want us to write your sins on the wall, don't write your brothers sins on the wall.

Now Peter shows us ways to love each other:

1 Peter 4v9
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

That's an interesting insight into the church, isn't it? "Oh no, they're coming for lunch! Again? We saw them last year!" If your brother needs a meal because he's broke, or because he's lonely, or because something sad has happened and he needs some company, cook him a meal. Talk about football, or tennis, or gardening, or whatever. And do so without grumbling.

1 Peter 4v10
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

We've all received gifts - some spiritual gifts and some natural gifts, but every one of us has the ability to serve God by serving His church. Administer your gifts faithfully. Work out what you're good at. And do it well. Do it regularly. Do it a lot. Do it for God's church.

1 Peter 4v11a
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.

When we preach, we mustn't put in our own thoughts, we must just try to find what God is saying through His holy word. No preacher is perfect, but the best we can, we must teach what's there. God is a better teacher than we are. So if we teach His words, it will be better than if we teach our own. We must try to teach the very words of God.

1 Peter 4v11b
If anyone serves, he should do it 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 for ever and ever. Amen.

Sometimes we serve in our own strength, not in God's strength, and we can get fed up, weary, resentful. We can give up because we're worn out, because we've been using our own strength. But it's possible to serve in the power of the Holy Spirit. Even when we're making the coffee or cleaning the toilets, we can know the joy of the Lord and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, even to do that.

Whatever you're doing for Jesus, do it in the power of the Holy Spirit. As Zechariah prophesied, "Not by might, nor be strength but by my Spirit says the Lord". Then you won't run dry, and you won't get fed up, and you won't complain, "Why have I got to do it?" Learn the gift of flowing in the Holy Spirit. If He prompts you to do something, then do it, in his strength and his joy.

If we will joyfully serve Christ and one another, then Jesus Christ will be glorified. And to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.