“Above all keep your love for one another fervent, because love covers a multitude of sins” 1 Peter 4:8 (NET)
The end is near - words that should affect the way we live our lives today. What we truly believe should do more than merely give us head knowledge. It should cause us to see the present with different eyes. We have already recognized that we are aliens on this earth because our real home is heaven. Now we hear that Jesus’ return is near! Are you ready?
In 1 Peter 4:7, Peter announces to these first century Christians that the end is near. From our perspective, it looks like he was wrong. After all, it has been two thousand years. That doesn’t seem too near! So what do we do? Do we discount his words and believe that the end is not really near at all and that we can continue our lives as usual?
1. Read 2 Peter 3:3-9. In light of these verses, explain Peter’s words that the end is near and yet we are still waiting for it after 2000 years.
Read 1 Peter 4:7-19.
2. What adjustments does Peter suggest for the believer’s life in light of the fact that the end is near (vv. 7-11)?
3. Sharing question: What part does prayer play in your life? How would that change if you truly believed that the end is near?
4. Read 1 John 3:2-3. If you truly look forward to seeing the Lord, what will you do about it according to John?
5. Sharing question: What difference does it make to you in a practical sense that soon you will be going to your real home? How does that affect your life on a day-to-day basis? If it doesn’t make any practical difference to you, what plan can you implement to change that?
Reread 1 Peter 4:7-19.
1 Peter 4:8 is our Precious Word from God this week. I hope you are doing well with your memorization of these verses. Peter prefaces his instruction in this verse with the phrase, “above all.” Apparently this is an extremely important command in light of the fact that the end is near. In Day One of Week Three, on pp. 22-23, we looked at another command about love in 1 Peter 1:22. Please reread the verse, and you can review your study if you like.
6. Compare the two instructions about love. What does the command in 4:8 add to what Peter already said in 1:22?
The word for love here in 4:8 is agape, the same love that God has for us. Dr. Zodhiates says that agape means “benevolent love. Its benevolence, however, is not shown by doing what the person loved desires but what the one who loves deems as needed by the one loved. . . but for man to show love to God, he must first appropriate God’s agape, for only God has such an unselfish love.”11
7. Sharing question: If you are a parent, how does love look and act when your child sins? If you are not a parent, how did your parents’ love respond when you disobeyed?
8. In light of the definition of godly love, explain how love might cover a multitude of sins. Does that mean that we just overlook sin in the lives of others - live and let live?
Read James 5:16-20.
9. What practical ways from these verses do you see that you are to love someone and therefore cover a multitude of sins?
10. Sharing question: When have you so loved someone that you tried to turn them back from the error of their ways? Share with your group what happened and the outcome.
In 1 Peter 4:9 we are instructed to “show hospitality to one another without complaining.” At the time of Peter’s writing, believers had to open their homes as churches and also for traveling apostles and evangelists. We see in the book of Acts that Paul went from city to city proclaiming the gospel and staying with various families. Many of his letters record the names of the hosts of the house church in those cities. Our culture does not require that kind of hospitality; however, this instruction does apply to us as well. What is keeping you from hosting other believers at your home to build relationships?
I used to go to such beautiful homes owned by people in my church that I was ashamed of my humble home. Then, God began to work on me; He showed me that He had given me what I had. It belonged to Him, not to me. It was a mansion compared to the homes of the great majority of people in this world. God’s Spirit convicted me that my sin of pride was the problem, not the house. So I began to open my home for fellowships and for meetings, etc. I have always received the greatest blessing from doing so.
11. Sharing question: How can you apply 1 Peter 4:8 personally?
Reread 1 Peter 4:7-19.
In our study today we are going to look at spiritual gifts in a very surface way. It would take us several weeks to study this in-depth. If you have never really studied this subject, you might want to do some study on your own during the weeks after this class concludes or do the Diamonds in the Word assignment.
12. Why would Peter mention spiritual gifts in context of the approaching end of all things?
13. Write down what you learn about gifts in vv. 10-11.
a. Who has received them?
b. How are they to be used (v. 10)?
c. What 2 areas of gifts are mentioned in v. 11 and how are you to use them?
d. What is the outcome as we use our gifts (v.11)?
14. Sharing question: If you are God’s steward, what does that mean in a practical way concerning your spiritual gifts?
Read Matthew 25:14-30. This parable is about money, not spiritual gifts, but the principles apply to any kind of stewardship.
15. What do you learn from this parable about managing God’s resources?
16. Sharing question: How are you doing as a steward of God’s gifts, especially spiritual gifts? How can you begin to use your gifts in your church, as God intends that you do?
17. Responding to God: You may need to confess that you have not been a good steward of the gifts that God has given you. You may want to ask God to show you the right area of service. Thank Him for being so gracious that He wants to use you in His mighty work. Tell Him that you want to show His beauty as you use His gifts.
Reread 1 Peter 4:12-19.
Again, Peter comes back to the problem of suffering as a Christian.
18. What attitudes are we to have when we experience this kind of suffering according to this passage?
19. What parallels do you see in this passage and those we have previously considered in 1 Peter that deal with suffering?
20. Peter calls this suffering a “trial by fire.” How do you see this kind of suffering parallel a fire?
21. In vv. 17-18 Peter mentions judgment for believers. Considering the context and Romans 8:1, what is he talking about? What is this judgment?
22. Sharing question: Are you prepared for suffering as a believer or do you shy away from any situation where you may endure hostility from unbelievers? Can you think of a situation where you need to be up front about your faith although you risk facing a negative reaction?
As we conclude this week’s study, we need to consider it from the standpoint of keeping an eternal perspective on all things. When we do that, we become more beautiful because we see ourselves, our ministries, and our sufferings through the eyes of God and respond with grace. Keep this in mind as you reread this passage.
Reread 1 Peter 4:7-19.
23. Sharing question: In what area of your life would you be more beautiful if you had an eternal perspective? How can you better focus on the eternal each day?
24. Sharing question: How did you learn what your spiritual gifts are? Share with your group some practical things that helped you identify where God wanted you to serve. If you do not know what your gifts are, ask God for direction.
This week’s story is from a woman who had an open heart to serve God and His church. She was willing to do whatever she was asked and in the process learned that she has the gift of administration, which blesses people even in her workplace.
The coordinator for our Christmas Luncheon asked me to be her assistant in 2000, and after it was over, she and our Minister to Women were talking and hinting that I would be a good one to take it over. I said, "No, I like to stay in the background." Our Minister to Women grinned with a gleam in her eye and said nothing further.
Several months later at work, I was given a supervisory position, the first one in thirteen years. It turned out to be okay - the seven or eight folks assigned to me worked on various projects, so I didn't really have to lead them too much. It turned out to be a nice safe way to take on more responsibility.
In January 2002, the Chairman of the Women’s Ministry Board offered me the choice of either coordinating the Christmas Luncheon or the retreat. I prayed about it and realized that I could do the Christmas Luncheon without feeling too dependent on God, because I knew how that was "supposed" to work, whereas with the retreat, I had no idea, because I had not been involved in any of the planning for that in the past. I knew that I would have to depend a whole bunch more on God and that was probably a good thing for me. So I accepted.
In April of 2003 I became a project manager at work (instead of doing specialized work on various projects).
It just seems that God is leading me through various roles to grow me and show me how to serve His church.
25. Sharing question: We have covered a number of topics this week - spiritual gifts, suffering, hospitality, love, and prayer. How has God spoken to you about your life specifically? Responding to God: Respond to His Spirit’s prompting in prayer.
11 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1991), 866.