Saved from Indulgence to Service

Because Christ has saved us from gluttony, and in light of his return, we have been saved from a life of indulgence and complacency to a life of sacrificial service.

1 Peter 4:7-9

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

I don’t often recognise the sin of gluttony in my life.  I suspect I’m not alone.  We tend to be more aware of sins like anger, pride and lust… but gluttony is pretty socially acceptable in the twenty-first century, even for Christians.  The world is there to be enjoyed, and we’re foolish if we don’t!

Not that God hasn’t given us a world full of things to enjoy, in his goodness and kindness.  But these beautiful and compelling verses turn our attitudes to the world’s good things upside down.  In light of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter calls us to be alert and sober-minded, so we might pray.  To rise above our easy complacency and over-indulgence; to be alert and self-controlled – quick to remember gospel truth, aware of the accuser’s schemes against us, prayerful, thankful, ready to serve.  Readily and joyfully sharing our God-given material blessings by offering hospitality to others – sharing our food, our homes and our lives.  Loving each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 

But what I really love about these verses is that it’s not merely a call to alert, self-controlled prayerfulness, and loving community and hospitality.  It tells us why we should live like that.

“The end of all things is near.”

If this world is all there is, enjoying a life of indulgence, comfort and complacency isn’t a bad option.  Don’t worry, be happy!  Enjoy life, while you still can.  But it’s not.  This world is passing away, and so are we… not to give way to nothingness, but to usher in the new creation for those who belong to Jesus; and judgment for those who don’t. 

These eternal realities expose indulgence, comfort and complacency as the foolishness and blindness that they are.  If the end of all things is near, if Jesus has saved and bought us with his blood, forgiven our gluttony, and saved us from it, and is coming back soon, having prepared a magnificent wedding feast for us – then, alertness, self-control, prayer and loving, selfless service and hospitality is the best and only way to live.  For this world, as it presently is, is not our home.  Our hope is elsewhere.

Head:  Where do you see signs of indulgence, complacency and pleasure-seeking in the Australian culture around you?  In yourself? 

Heart:  How do you feel about the sin of gluttony in your life?  That Jesus had to die for your gluttony?

Hands:  What’s an indulgent habit of yours?  How can you redeem that activity, or the time you would have spent on it, for kingdom purposes?  (e.g. turning a Netflix night into inviting a friend over to re-connect and encourage one another). 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, please forgive me for too often not taking the sin of gluttony seriously.  Forgive me for living like this world is all there is.  Thank you that Jesus died for this too – that my gluttony and over-indulgence is forgiven, and that by your Spirit, you’ve saved and empowered me for a life of loving and sacrificial service and self-control – for your glory and my joy.  Amen.

A song to listen to:  Jesus, Thank You  

Bloss Wilson