7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it 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 4:1-11
“You need an attitude adjustment mister!”
Ever heard that before? Maybe you were a young kid grumbling as you cleaned up your toys because you weren’t ready for bed yet. Maybe you were a teenager grumbling when your mom was upset that everyday you only told her that your day was “FINE!” Maybe you were a coworker who hadn’t had coffee yet and were just a bit difficult to work with. Maybe you were a spouse who came home at the end of a long day and weren’t remotely ready to converse!
Last week we heard the wonderful reminder that through faith in Jesus we are saved! This week we’re going to talk about what kind of an attitude “the saved” should have. As you read, pay close attention, consider your life prayerfully and answer whether or not you need an ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT.
1. Attitude or Baditude?
Take a look first of all at the right attitude. The Godly attitude -- Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
Jesus our Lord is the perfect example of the attitude God wants us to have. For Jesus, following God was more important than any kind of bodily desires. Following God was the most important thing! He did not lust when he saw women. He did not hoard money to himself to fill himself up with plenty of food. He did not let out his rage and start calling his enemies all kinds of nasty names. Jesus always served God first and his body second.
In fact, Jesus didn’t even refuse God’s directive to die on the cross. As painful as that was to his body, he still went ahead and did it. Following God was more important to him than his own bodily welfare.
God wants us to have the same attitude. In fact, God’s Word says, “Arm yourselves with the same attitude.” We might say: “Gear up!” Like the many NFL players who put on their cleats, knee pads, thigh pads, shoulder pads, and cool looking wrist bands, we too need to gear up with this “God-first” attitude each day.
And it needs to be in every aspect of life. Again, if the football players forgets his helmet then he hasn’t totally geared up. If we don’t put God first in a few, hidden aspects of our lives, then we aren’t fully geared up!
Deuteronomy 6 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This is a godly attitude to have at home, at work, at play, at school, with relatives, with friends, with coworkers, with people who really aren’t all that nice! Have this attitude all the time.
Of course, this godly attitude is totally different the attitude of this world. The world says:
“Do what you want.”
“Do what feels right.”
“Who cares about anyone else, as long as you're happy.”
What would life be like if we all lived by that creed? Would any of us be happy?
Brother and sisters, you are not to be like that. Peter writes in verses 3-4, "…you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.”
The wrong attitude occurs when you care more about your physical life than your spiritual life. Then, it leads to wrong actions.
- When you care more about a sexual high, than about follow God’s rules and saving yourself for marriage, you partake in debauchery.
- When you care more about how it pleases your eyes to look at photos of scantily clad women, than how it pleases God to keep your eyes pure, you lust.
- When you care more about how the next drink will make you feel beyond buzzed, than you care about how God feels about your choices, you get drunk.
- When you care more about what your friends would say if you didn’t go to the party, drink too much, and tell all kinds of dirty jokes, rather than care about God would say if you did go, you get involved in wild parties and carousing.
- When you care more about yourself and how you feel, than about God and what he says, you commit idolatry.
That’s really what it is isn’t it? Caring more aobut your body than God is idolatry. You serve you. Not God!
But this isn’t unlike the world. The world says, “We are only an accidental victor in evolution. We are the greatest animal. Who cares about anyone else? Do what makes you better than others?!?”
Should we be surprised then that they are surprised when they see any attitude that is completely different Peter says, “4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you."
It looks like this:
- “Why isn’t that guy falling to peer pressure? Nerd.”
- “Why isn’t that person staying out late Saturday night? Geek.”
- “Why are you so faithful to your wife? Ball and chain.”
- “Why don’t you support homosexuality? Bigot.”
- “You think porn is bad? Prude.”
- “You're only having one drink? Wuss.”
- “You never tried drugs and you never will? Loser.”
It’s strange to follow God over and above your own physical desires!
So…what about you? Are you strange?
I don’t mean to ask if you spent yesterday walking about the mall like a duck shouting “Here comes the money!” at everyone who passed you by.
I mean “Do you put God first so obviously in your life, that people take notice? Do they find your perspective on life strange? Do they find your love and righteousness so different than the rest of the world that they’d call you…different. Strange?"
If the answer is, no…then “Why not?”
I suppose it could be because you have nice, Christian friends. Friends who live like you do and appreciate your Christian perspective on life.
But maybe it’s because you aren’t living all that strange. Maybe your attitude isn’t about serving God first and your body later. Maybe your coworkers can’t tell you’re a Christian…OR…if you’ve told them you are…they can’t tell that there’s any difference. You swear like them, lust like them, lie like them. You watch the same raunchy movies, you say the same raunchy jokes.
Brothers and sisters, if God couldn’t pick you out of a lineup of unbelievers by looking at your lifestyle, this is not good! You need a spiritual attitude adjustment!
2. The Spiritual Attitude Adjustment
Let Peter tell you why. Verse 5 says, “But they, these people who care more about their bodies than serving God, will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”
Yes, Peter is talking about those debaucherous pagans here, but isn’t this meant for us too? We, too, will have to give an account for our actions to the Almighty God.
And if your report is indistinguishable from the report of the unbelieving pagan next to you, then…what explanation will you offer?
- “Everyone else was doing it.”
- “God, it’s not as bad as you think.”
- “Come on Jesus. Be cool.”
God doesn’t do cool. Not when it comes to sin. When it comes to sin, his feelings are very hot. His anger burns against it and he sends sinners to hell.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Read verse 6, “For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit."
The Gospel! That means good news. The good news is what we heard about in last week’s sermon: In spite of our sins, in spite of our terrible atttitudes, in spite of our selfishness, Jesus died to save us:
He saved us with his perfect life, innocent death, and glorious resurrection. He saved us from sin, death, and hell! He saved us to heaven!
This means that by trusting in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will be forgiven all of your sinful, selfish attitudes. By abandoning your sinful lifestyles and turning to God for grace, you will be saved from God’s wrath!
Because it doesn’t matter what humans say to you. It doesn’t matter if they think of you as a cool mom or a trendy hipster or a enlightened sauvant! It matters what God says to you. And thanks to Jesus: God says you will live!
This glorious news changes our attitude. When you see your Savior suffering for your salvation, it changes your attitude. No longer is “the way you feel” most important, but what pleases God!
The Gospel leads us to suffer in the body for the sake of following our Lord Jesus. It leads us to say “I care more about my Lord than my own body, because he cared more about me than his own body!” The Gospel leads us to hate sin. The Gospel leads us to go against the world. The Gospel leads us to have a different attitude. A better attitude.
A strange attitude.
3. Your New Strange Attitude
Peter now starts listing attributes. Actions taken as a result of this new, strange attitude. Listen: “ 7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it 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."
*We are clear minded. Verse 7 says it, “7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” Literally the word means “Sober.” Of course, we think of what happens when people have too much alcohol. They can’t think clear. They can’t walk in a straight line. They make cloudy decisions.
But alcohol isn’t the only thing that can make us drunk: Money. Status. Lust. Things of this world can cloud our decision making and get in the way of following Jesus.
So sober up! Drink the clean water of God’s Word. Flush out the false pretenses of this world. Focus in on Jesus and make following His will your number one goal!
To God, not so much.
*We love deeply. This is not what the world says to do. The world says, “Get revenge! Repeay evil for evil.” In fact, Betrayal and Revenge are two of the most popular TV shows on Primetime. (Does that say anything about the state of our nation by the way?)
God’s Word is different. It says repay evil with love. Love covers up a multitude of sins.
And do you want motivation? Consider this: God didn’t repay your evil with more evil. He sent his Son Jesus. Jesus died for sins. He showed love. His love covered up a multitude of sins:
Make your love the same. A love so strong that it’s strange.
* We are hospitable. We’ve been talking about that a lot when it comes to welcoming visitors to church. Think about what it means. It means we don’t worry about ourselves “I’m tired. I haven’t had coffee. I just want to sit in church and be served.” Instead we think about others, “They might be tired. They might need a coffee. I want to get up, even though I’m tired, and serve them!”
Where’s the line? When might I be too hospitable? Offering a ride home. Spending my time talking to a visitor. Asking a guest at our church to my house?
Be so hospitable that it’s strange! After all, we have a Gospel of hospitality – one who suffered God’s wrath and crucifixion to be hospitable and save us from sin!
Make your hospitality extreme. So extreme it’s different. As Chrysostom the church father once said, “Preach the Gospel. When necessary, use words!”
*We serve. Verse 10 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides…"
We’re reminded that God has blessed the church with many different skills, abilities, and treasures. But we aren’t to use those to seek our own glory. It isn’t about who is the best. It isn’t about getting the best status. It isn’t even about being the best church goer. (We don’t go to church to see who is being the best Christian this week!)
Rather we work together. Different talents; same attitude: “Serve Jesus!”
Serve him with art. Serve him with prayer. Serve him with encouragement. Serve him with outreach. Serve him by counting numbers. Serve him by maintaining his house. Serve him by getting communion ready. Serve him by cleaning up the pews. Serve him by serving coffee.
Serve God by serving others! A strange concept to the world.
I believe that we now have a new attitude. And may I propose a new motto to live by. Each day ask yourself, “How can I be strange today? How can I live differently? How can I love Jesus profoundly? How can I make it clear that I am serving God this day and everyday!"
Brothers and sisters, have a strange attitude. Live a strange life. Do strange things.
It’s like that song, “This little Gospel light of mine.” Only instead of a little Gospel light, the encouragement this week is to go out and buy a 9000 watt Gospel spotlight!
And don’t do it just so that you can walk about and say, “I’m pretty good at being STRANGE for Jesus.” That’s not the goal.
Just like the spotlight’s goal isn’t to shine light on itself. The spotlight focuses others on something. It points people in direction
Our spotlight? Our life? It shines on Christ: As Peter ends it…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.