Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins., Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 4:7-11
I’ve never run a marathon; nor even a half marathon. I doubt seriously I ever will. But I do go to the gym three days a week, and engage in some pretty intense exercise. As the final round of the workout begins, I begin to look forward to the end of the class – except when there is the dreaded finisher! That’s usually a super high intensity combination of lifts, squats, or lunges that truly lives up to its name: finisher. Once it’s over I’m finished; happy to have don it, but finished for sure!
Peter speaks of the end of all things being near, and draws some conclusions from that which takes into account not only the end, but the relationships we have with others in the body of Christ. His calling is two-fold: prayer to God, and love for others. He reminds us that we must forgive one another by applying copious amounts of love to our fellow Jesus follower. He urges that we use the gifts we have received for the good of others in accordance with God’s power and our neighbor’s need.
The purpose of that is twofold. By living a life of love and grace we glorify God, and encourage and support our brothers and sisters in Christ to remain faithful. We reorient ourselves and our neighbors to the true north of God’s glory and power. We acknowledge that making it through to the end is possible through mutual love, hospitality, service, and the admonition of God’s word.
Some people don’t finish well. They burn out or rust out with little thought of God’s proper place in their lives. Only with the help of others and the grace of God will we finish truly well. If they were true then, they are even more true today. O Lord, help us to finish well!