Spiritual gifts (3)

Sermon: Sunday, 26th May, 2024
Speaker: Geoff Murray
Scripture: 1 Peter 4:7-11

Hospitality & Heaven, Administration & Adoration

1. Serving in light of the end

‘The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.’ (1 Peter 4:7)

Now, in the life of our congregation over the course of the past couple of months this has felt very real and it highlights to us that this is real all the time. We know the end is near either if Jesus comes again or if we pass on, but we always think about it as something far away and not really affecting us today. But for Christians, we are always to let the end affect our present. Living in light of the end is not for your retirement, it’s not for times like these when death is brought into focus, it is for all times.

And how then are we to respond in light of the end? Get ourselves whipped up into a frenzy, running about daft, doing absolutely crazy and extraordinary things, in fact, this passage is just calling us to ordinary Christian living. Be sober minded and alert. Pray. Love one another.

As we live in light of the end, we do so not with a panic, not with being whipped up in a frenzy. We do so going about our Christian duties. As we live in light of the end though it also means we don’t coast our way to death and half live for the world on earth and half live for the world to come. We don’t build our empire here on earth until its clear the empire will come to an end.

So the message is clear: in light of the end, as Christians we are to get on with the day job of living as Christians. Not whipping ourselves up into a frenzy nor coasting along living half for the world on earth and half for the world to come but rather living for Jesus each day at a time.

It shows itself in prayer here but seeing as our focus is spiritual gifts we’re going to look at one listed in our passage. ‘Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.’ (1 peter 4:9)

2. Offering Hospitality Today

Hospitality is a beautiful part of being a Christian. Opening up your home and having people open up their home is a wonderfully tremendous part of being in the family of God. Hospitality perfectly displays the gospel. Hospitality in the Greek is “love of stranger”.

Hospitality demonstrates the gospel, it shows how God:
• Welcomed us in and makes his home with us – John 15
• Loved us when we were strangers – Ephesians 2:13
• Was generous to us – Ephesians 1:3, 6
• His mercy – Romans 5:8

And before we unpack the subject of hospitality, I want to ask, do you know this kind of good news for yourselves?

Lets look then at the call to hospitality. We see it patterned in the life of Jesus.
• The call of Levi – Mark 2
• Cooking his disciples’ breakfast post-resurrection – John 21

We see it in the early church:
• Acts 2:46
• Acts 28:7

We see that it’s commanded:
• 1 Peter 4:9
• Romans 12:13
• Hebrews 13:12
• 1 Timothy 3 & Titus 1 (commanded of leaders in the church)

We will see it in the new Creation:
• Revelation 19:6-9

First of all, we should think, ‘What is hospitality?’ It’s opening up your home to welcome others in. It’s not that common in Scotland today, but hospitality is opening up your home to welcome others in. This often takes the form of sharing a meal or some refreshments. It might be dinner, lunch, brunch, it might be a cuppa and a biscuit. But what is key is that, hospitality isn’t a dinner party, it isn’t entertainment. We might worry that we would have to serve a 3 course meal, or that the house must be in spic and span condition. But hospitality isn’t about you or even your home, it’s about making room for others and in that the goal as we see from this passage is not that people will go on and on about your excellent cooking, but notice how God-centred this passage is. The gifts are from God (see verse 10), serving using these gifts is in the strength God provides and use to the glory of God (See verse 11).

Hospitality is simply making room for others.You don’t have to be an excellent cook, you don’t have to be Michelin star, you just need to love your brother or sister enough to open your home to them.

Cultural application vs biblical principle? In Scotland, we don’t do great with hospitality in or out of the church. So, does our culture of lack of hospitality go or does the biblical principle go? It has to be the cultures lack of hospitality that goes.

The reason I don’t think hospitality was ‘just a cultural thing’ either was at the end of Acts 9, Simon Peter, who wrote this letter, stays with a man called Simon the Tanner in Joppa. Now, we know little about this man. But many of the commentators are convinced he must have been a Christian because it was primarily Christians who practiced hospitality in the 1st century among strangers. And notice, it doesn’t say we’re to offer hospitality to outsiders, it says to one another. Now of course, we can see from elsewhere in Scripture, that’s absolutely what we are to do. We are to offer hospitality to outsiders. But here it emphasises the importance of offering hospitality to one another in the church.

If you’re more evangelistically minded, you might look at that command and think ‘What about the outsider?’ But actually this is something which has an impact on the outsider too. As we love one another, the world is to sit up and take notice. Jesus links our love for one another to others sitting up and taking notice of the love existing in the church for one another. As we have people round, host one another, share with one another, love one another people take notice.

Your loving one another, your showing hospitality to one another is different, its distinct and it has the power to point many to Jesus Christ. Notice too it’s to be done without grumbling. Such as; ‘All these dishes to do, this person never finished their food, having people round adds to the grocery bill.’

There’s a number of ways we could grumble about hospitality. We can grumble about so much. But actually, that’s what makes hospitality Christian is when we open up our home at cost to ourselves, we sacrifice our free time, we welcome others even when we’re exhausted and its done without grumbling.

It’s easy to do hospitality with grumbling, in fact its so easy. And the best part with all your grumbling is you can kinda play the martyr card and do your Christian duty of hospitality. ‘See God I’m doing it.’… meanwhile grumbling.

Actually, that’s why we keep an eye on the end. That helps us to realise actually we’re not living for the here and now anyway. For peace and quiet at home, for more money saved at the end of your weekly shop. We live for our future. Our home isn’t here on earth, our comfort in life and death is not ‘me time’ our home is in heaven, our comfort is that our name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. For whatever cost we may incur financially or with our energy, it’s all worth it for we have an eternal glory to look forward to. Show hospitality in light of heaven.

Also, love is important. ‘Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.’ (1 Peter4:8) If you show hospitality but do it without love, it is for nothing. It allows you to see that the mess of the dishes, the giving up of the ‘me tim’e is all worth it because people are worth it. Anyone is worth it because they are made in God’s image and are valuable but so much more than that if they are your brothers and sisters, they are so used to it. Apart from anything else, if your concern is ‘me time’, I’m afraid in heaven you will have zero ‘me time’; you’ll be spending an awful lot of time with each other.

So two questions:
1. Do you show hospitality? Do you have people in your home, making space and welcoming them in? I understand for some people there are certain reasons why it can’t happen. But anyone, assuming they and their spouse are in good health can do it. One of the great delights of having Frances in our core team is often if there’s a bible study or home meeting she often asks, ‘Can I host it?’ If you don’t, the call of this is clear, show hospitality to one another. Obviously, some have particular gifts in hospitality, but the call is clear, the principle stands for us as Christians to show hospitality. Show hospitality to one another

2. If you do, do you do it without grumbling? How easy it is to grumble. Don’t give in to the cultural lie that your greatest need is ‘me time’. Don’t begrudge the dishes or the mess of opening up your home. Love each other deeply, look to your heavenly joys and practice hospitality without grumbling.
You might have a particular gift for hospitality though, you might be an excellent baker, you might make wonderful meals, are you exercising that gift? There’s nothing that gives joy quite like a good meal, can you be used by God to give joy by opening your home, by making food.

Those with the gift of hospitality have a gift of joy to give to others. If you have that gift, what Peter is saying to you is offer hospitality to others without grumbling.

3. The Gift of Administration

‘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)

Teaching is listed here but will be looked at another time, serving has already been looked at, so we’ll look at administration through the lens of verse 10. Administration is listed as a spiritual gift. (See 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12.) Also, we see it practiced in Acts 6 with the choosing of Deacons, because the Grecian widows were overlooked in the daily distribution of food. You needed people who were able to organise that and distribute that.

I am so thankful to God for people with administrative gifts, often detail people. I’m not a details person. I’m a big picture person, and how the big picture people need details people. An eye for detail, a care for the details of how things work in its minutest details.

The gift of Administration is the God-given ability to understand what makes an organisation function and the special ability to plan and execute procedures that accomplish the goals of the group or organisation.

You might already do this in work or at home with your family and have these particular gifts but never thought about using them. There are a number of administrative roles carried out in the church: what is so striking about the vast majority of these is the amount of work that goes on that nobody knows about. The hours that different people in the congregation put into these various tasks is enormous, much of it unseen, but much of it carried out.

Thank you to all who do these roles, what an incredible role you all play in the Kingdom of God. Where would we be without a safeguarding officer keeping us all safe? Where would we be without someone taking the time to manage the church calendar with bookings for building rental? Where would we be without someone managing the books of the church? Thank you for all your help, service and support.

What is clear though is that many of these people have done these tasks for sometime and they do it joyfully. Is it possible you have a gift of administration, organising, planning details you could use to help aid or even take work off of individuals who are working hard in these ways? If you have those gifts, consider in what way you might help to build God’s kingdom through administration.

4. The Glory 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 for ever and ever. Amen.’ (1 Peter 4:11)
And this is the end of course of all hospitality, of all administration, of any and every gift, it is the glory of God. God is the glorious one, as you serve, may it not be about you, may it not be about your being praised and appreciated, may it all be for God’s glory. And especially with administration, many don’t know the work that goes into all the roles listed above, some may not even know who carries out these roles.
And there’s something glorious about that. That actually, it’s not about any one individual, it’s about God and that’s the way it should be in the church, that he is centre.

Is he at the centre of your serving? Is he at the heart of your hospitality? Is he at the heart of administration? Is he at the heart of anything you do in the church? Serve in the strength he provides so that he may get the glory through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.