Peter continues to call his readers to live a life pleasing to God. “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking” (verse 1a).
We start off with Peter saying that “whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (verses 1b-2). How I would LOVE for this to ALWAYS be true! I know I haven’t ceased from sin ALL the time. But I am forgiven for that sin EVERY time I bring it to God. Also, the more we walk with Him the less we want to indulge in what the world has to offer. That is what God calls us to do; become more like Jesus every day.
The last part of our reading spoke to me the loudest today. It is probably because I just finished reading a story in the book “Following In His Footsteps: Walking Day by Day with Jesus” by Jean Coleman that touched on the same theme. The story was titled “Surprise Package” and talked about a wife who received an iron for her birthday. She was very unhappy with it because it wasn’t something “personal” but something that would help serve her family. God called her on her attitude and likened the gift she had received to His spiritual gifts.
The majority of the gifts God gives us are to benefit the body. He does give up personal gifts too, like salvation and the Holy Spirit. But even these gifts have body impact. We need the other parts of the body to help us grow in these gifts. Can you imagine being totally alone with the gift of salvation? What a lonely place that would be! We need connection with each other.
The “helping gifts” God gives us are not for our own amusement or sense accomplishment or importance. The gifts of healing, prophecy, exhortation, helps, and even teaching are given to benefit other members of the body. Our attitude in using these gifts is important too. God does NOT want us to be puffed up or glory seeking because of His gifts. He wants us to serve one another with joy for what we are able to give to another. Joy that they are being blessed by Him. Joy at being used as His instrument. Joy from seeing the change brought in the life of another.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 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” (verses 10-11).
Notice that these gifts belong to God and we are to be stewards of them. That means that we are to take care of them and only use them how He directs. They are not ours to do with as we wish or to sell them to another.
A perfect example of this is when Simon came to Paul to “buy” the gift of laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit and healing. Paul was NOT tempted by this offer because He knew the Gifter and where the power behind them comes from. Paul also knew the purpose behind the gifts; to draw people to God.
I don’t believe God’s gifts will operate if we are using them for our glory and not His. He will NOT share His glory with another. Be excited that He chose to work through you but don’t let it turn into pridefulness. Remember, He can just as easily use the stones to do His work if we refuse Him or turn His gifts against those He wants to serve.
Father God forgive me for EVERY time I have tried to take the credit for the things You have given me. Forgive me also for the times I’m stingy with Your gifts and try and keep them for my own use. Help me use what You have given to me to meet the needs of Your body. My greatest blessing is seeing others benefit from what You have given me. Thank You for the gifts You have given me; especially the gift of salvation!