As we continue our study of the book of 1 Peter, let us again note the importance Peter places upon our union with Christ. As we have seen, it is our identification with Jesus by faith, which is symbolized in our baptism (1 Peter 3:21), that enables us to put the sin in our life to death. Jesus broke the hold sin has over His people by suffering rather than disobeying God’s will in order to bear our sins (4:1). If we are truly in Christ, the power of sin over us has been broken and we demonstrate this as we leave our past sins behind and are willing to be ridiculed by those outside the faith, just as Christ was, rather than do evil (vv. 2–6).
Because we are in Christ, we can stand firm and live holy lives in light of the coming end of all things (v. 7). One of the ways we do this is to love other Christians earnestly, particularly by showing hospitality to our brothers and sisters (vv. 8–9). Today’s passage tells us that we can also stand firm and love our fellow believers by being willing to use our gifts to serve one another (v. 10).
Other passages of Scripture make it clear that the Holy Spirit gives each believer one or more gifts to help edify the body of Christ (for example, 1 Cor. 12). Specifically, Peter lists gifts involving speaking and service in 1 Peter 4:11, as manifestations of God’s “varied grace” (v. 10). What is in mind here is the fact that God has blessed the church with gifts that can be expressed in a multitude of different ways. For example, two or more people might have the gift of service. However, no two people will manifest this gift exactly alike.
Nevertheless, Peter gives us general principles for the exercise of these gifts (v. 11). Those whose gifts involve speaking (perhaps teaching or encouragement) must use them as one who speaks the “oracles of God.” This does not mean that the words spoken are infallible; rather, they are to be spoken with the same care and solemnity that the prophets of old would use. Likewise, those who serve must rely on God’s power and not their own. When we exercise our gifts in love according to these principles, we will fulfill our call to glorify the Lord even in the midst of suffering.
Peter does not give us an exhaustive list of gifts here; he gives two broad examples that encompass many of the specific ones listed elsewhere in the New Testament. What are your spiritual gifts? Do you have particular talents that have been noticed by the elders in your church? Do you readily gravitate toward one ministry or another? These are helpful questions to help determine your gifts. If you are not using your gifts, find a specific area of ministry in which you can serve.