“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.” (I Peter 4:10-11).
In anticipation of Jesus Christ’s soon return (I Peter 4:7), God commands believers to be self-controlled and sober-minded by loving one another and showing hospitality. He also calls self-controlled and sober-minded believers to be good stewards of their spiritual gift(s).
A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to serve. Spiritual gifts are not for the purpose of personal pride and self-exaltation. I Peter 4:10 makes it very clear that spiritual gifts are for the purpose of serving one another. As churches and individual believers serve one another with their spiritual gifts, they evidence good stewardship.
Remember that Peter was writing to Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. Using one’s spiritual gifts does not just occur when life is easy, but also when it is hard.
Peter now divides spiritual gifts into two main categories: speaking gifts and serving gifts. Let’s examine each separately.
With respect to speaking gifts, the word speak (λαλέω; laleo) means to communicate by talking. Within the context, this is to be done actively and presently. The word Laleo is but one of many New Testament words God uses to convey what manner of speaking or preaching was to be done: the man of God was to speak or preach the Word of God.
The Bible communicates two main truths: First, God exists and He is sovereign and providential. In short, He is in control. Second, this One, True God who exists and who is sovereign and providential has chosen to reveal Himself. He has chosen to do so not only through creation, or general revelation, but also in His Word, which is defined as specific revelation.
Peter says that believers who possess speaking gifts from God are to speak the oracles of God. The word oracle (λόγιον; logion) means sayings or messages. The sayings or messages believers are to communicate belong to and originate from God alone. Oracles are the utterances of God contained in the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul wrote, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The Old Testament prophets, along with New Testament apostles, evangelists and pastor/teachers did not have the luxury of coming up with their own message and their own methodology of speaking for God. God decreed not only the message to be communicated but also the method to communicate the message. The Apostle Paul wrote Timothy and said, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:1-2).
The reason Paul gave Timothy such a stern command was explained in 2 Timothy 2:3-4: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
Peter is very clear on this issue. So is Pastor Steven J. Lawson in his book The Kind of Preaching God Blesses. Dr. Lawson writes about an alarming trend in many churches and pulpits to not preach the Word of God.
“To an alarming degree, an increasing amount of preaching these days can only be described as “slick schtick.” By this I mean that form of communication in which the preacher has little to say, but tragically says it very well. This kind of nominal preaching caters to the listener by replacing exposition with entertainment. It substitutes theology with theatrics. It supplants sound doctrine with sound checks. In this sad exchange, the drama of redemption gives way to just plain dramatics. Such negligible preaching has turned many pulpits into a weekend stage for D-list actors who masquerade as preachers. The modern sermon has tragically been described as a mile-wide and an inch deep. Carnal ears will always want to be charmed and not confronted, captivated and not challenged. Those who stand in pulpits must not cave in to these demands, but must maintain the apostolic standard of preaching.”
The church, believers in general and pastors and preachers in particular, must remain resolutely committed to speak the oracles of God. In other words, we must remain firmly faithful to proclaim what God has said in His Word.
If your pastor does proclaim what God has said in His Word, take the time to thank him for doing so. Do it today. Your word of encouragement may be just the thing he needs to keep him going. If you are attending a church in which the pastor does not preach from the Bible, you may want to prayerfully consider finding a church with a pastor who does.
If you are a teacher of a Sunday school class, or the leader of a small group, remain resolute yourself to teach the Word of God. I encourage you to read 2 Timothy 3-4.
Soli deo Gloria!