1 Peter 4 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Patrick Lee, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 Peter 4:2-6

What do the sins listed in v. 3 have in common? The sins of verse are common in they all have to do with satisfying bodily pleasures.  Such desires are entirely focused on self, what will make feel good in the moment, taking no thought of the future or what is good.  They do not consider others, but entirely force such thoughts out, while focusing on what can be brought to the self.  They question underlying each of these sins is: what I can get/take/do for myself?

Do I share the sentiment Apostle Peter expresses in v. 3 towards this kind of life?  What view of my life is expressed in the phrase “you have spent enough time”?  In what way am I living “for the will of God” (vs.2)? I share Apostle Peter’s sentiment regarding such a life: it is a life of “dissipation.”  When I wasn’t a Christian, all I could think of was how to maximize the prospects and pleasures of my life and body.  I engaged in a variety of activities that would bring me pleasure or soothe my pains.  Particularly, I sought to soothe myself emotionally.  To this, I thought that all things that “hurt” me, regardless of how small they were, were things that were utterly wrong, and I would protest for my rights against all who sought to push me down, even when they were they right.   Yet the more that I sought to build a life that would make me satisfied (or just satiated for the moment), I ended up finding that happiness and lasting wholeness evaded me.  The longer I would go on, my life seemed to me less and less, until I am came to a point where I didn’t know who I was anymore.  Seeking pleasure, caused me to cross boundaries that I thought had defined my identity, but with those boundaries broken by pleasure seeking, I had lost what identity that I had.

The view of my life expressed in “you have spent enough time” is one that recognizes that living this way is utterly fruitless and that I know it is so.  After time, I did realize that living for my desires was a complete waste of time and a loss to myself in ways that I had not anticipated.  In recognizing this, in hitting a point of deep pain and realization, I could say that enough was enough.

Now my life is characterized by my obligations to others.  I am God’s son, his witness on the earth, a minister of the gospel, a husband, a father, a foster father, a brother in Christ, and a friend.  Each of these relationships pulls and makes demands of my thought, effort, sleep, and time.  I am obligated to serve so many and now I have little time to just myself.  And yet, I am not feeling that I am “dissipated” through these efforts.  I find that I am pushing ever deeper into the needs of others.  And though these relationships take from me, they also have granted me much in the way of purpose, meaning, and love.  The more I give, the longer I give, I find that trying to lose my life, I gain it back in ways that I could not have anticipated in my self-focused mindset.

Reflect on the description of the world’s response to the believer’s stance against living in dissipation.  Why would there be such a hostile response?

The world is hostile because such a life is rebuke their own self-focused, pleasure-seeking mindset.  Everyone can readily recognize a life that is worthily lived.  Everyone can look at those who have given all and say that such people lived a good life.  But most examples are far away in place and time.  We can laud Mother Teresa, but she is separated from us by time and place.  She is from another generation and we can work out self-justifications: she lived in simpler times; she was a unique person of special quality.  But to see someone next to you, giving of themselves, sacrificing for the sake of others, and not buying the latest gadgets (even the accepted ones), is to face the facts of one’s selfishness.  Such a life is a statement that a life of sacrifice is possible and it highlights all the selfishness of those nearby.  Selfishness then must be justified, and one way to do that is to define selfishness as “normal” and even “right.”  It is hard to say, I am selfish, I am bad, so it easier to say, that another brand of life is wrong, and feel that mine is right.  Then, to bear the brunt of such a response is a sign that the believer is doing right, he is living a counter-cultural life that speaks against the prevailing mindset.

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