Don't (only) Blow Your Own Snow
Two of my neighbors came over today in the midst of the snowstorm and volunteered to help dig us out. The constantly growing drifts of snow were no match for two snow blowers and a four wheeler that was outfitted with a snowplow, at least for a while. For one of the neighbors, this was not the first time he practiced this exact kindness and we all are especially grateful, perhaps my two sons most of all. Their generosity, a sacrificial gift of braving the extreme elements along with a lot of hard work is more than noteworthy. And it got me to thinking about several things that we've studied and in particular 1 Peter chapter four.
1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 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.
Of course Peter is writing to gentile believers who were experiencing persecution because of their faith. And while we are not yet called to endure such trials, this passage is just as applicable to us today. There are four things here that should be marks of a gospel practicing community of believers. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the gospel makes these things happen, it controls the life and actions of those who are genuine followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel assists in our prayers, covers sin in love, invites others in, and gives grace to others through spiritual gifts.
These characteristics that are the results of submitting to the control of the gospel flow from being transformed by it and are fairly simple. They are straight forward. There is nothing complex about them. And for today I'd like to zero in on the giving of grace to one another. According to Peter, each person is gifted in one of two categories of Holy Spirit enabled ability to enrich and edify and otherwise encourage all the one-another’s in the biblical community. Speaking and serving, those are the two categories. Both are essential for the proper function of a local body of Christ. We should not believe they are our gifts to do with what we will but rather we ought to perform them as a stewardship. God did not give them to us for us. He has granted our particular gift for the benefit of others. There's a straight line from there that connects to the heart of the gospel as Christ gave of Himself, performing what only he could do, for the benefit of you and for me.
You are not responsible for someone else’s gift. You will not be held accountable by God as a steward of something you do not possess, that he has not given you. There will be times when you will be called on to serve or speak in ways that maybe outside of your spiritual gift. But as anyone in management can tell you, there will come a day when you will give a report to the upper management for how you handled the resources you were actually given.
My neighbors are from different walks of life, each has his own career. Both of them used the resources at their disposal to give grace to our family. I don't yet know for sure if either one of them are followers of Jesus Christ but I do know that what they did is a great example of what the body of Christ ought to be all the time. We have all been given tools to use for the good of others. As those who have been and are being transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ into his image, we ought to use those tools in a very gospel saturated way, serving and speaking as though we will report to the Boss on what we did.
Pushing and blowing snow out of a driveway is a wonderful thing, imagine what Light City Bible church would be like if we had that same willingness to use the grace gift tools God has granted us for the good of one another. I predict we would begin to stand out in the culture. People would observe our behavior and we would be identified as belonging to and or following the “real” Jesus. And we'd be prepared for the days when tribulation and persecution come our way. May God be so gracious to us that we would be so prepared!