The Expository Files

As The Utterances of God

 1 Peter 4:10-11

Jesus expects me to be a good influence in the world around me. There are two parts to Jesus' formulae for doing this. He said, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16).

The first part is that we do and say the things God expects us to do and say. We respond to life's blessings and ordeals the way we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, are instructed to. We build our characters in a godly direction each day through practicing both "practicing what we preach" and preaching what is true. That is how we let our light shine in an often dark world, and the darker the day, the brighter true lights will shine forth.

The second part is to glorify God. We understand that whatever good is accomplished in God's name is for the purpose of bringing Him glory. It's not all about me, but about Him. Everything I have, including skills and opportunities and time itself, is not my own but given by God. It is only by the grace of God I can do any worthwhile thing. Without Him I would be literally nothing. My goal needs to be to bring God glory. What do I have to offer the world? Only that which has been granted to me by God. Apart from that, I have nothing, so when I do rise above the fray and accomplish something that makes me feel good or useful, while it is a time to rejoice and to share a sense of accomplishment, the glory belongs to God because I have only used what He first gave me.

Now, consider how Peterís words relate to all this. To please God we need to be lights, that is, to seek out and take advantage of opportunities to be of useful service. But we need to do this as we respect Godís rule and authority over our lives.

10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 4:10-11).

Speaking as the Utterances of God
It is important that when we speak concerning spiritual, moral and doctrinal matters that we do so with God's approval. (1 John 4:4-6; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13). If we have the respect and reverence for God and His word that we ought to have, then we will humble ourselves under Him and submit to Him as God (1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:6). To lack this respect is to greatly endanger our relationship with God.

There can be all kinds of appearances of holiness and righteousness without real reverence for God. Just because something is religious does not mean it is true or right (Matthew 23:23,24; 27-28).
For example, one local pastor recently said concerning the legalization of "gay marriage" that gays should be given the same rights as heterosexuals in this matter. "We should be accepting of all peoples", she said. Many think that the age-old definition of what constitutes a marriage needs to be changed to accommodate "gay marriageĒ.

We certainly do need to love and respect all people, but do we not also need to respect the word of God? If I speak as the utterances of God, and if someone asks me what constitutes "marriage", how would I answer? If I respect God, and accept the Lordship of Jesus with reverence, would I not offer the same definition as He does (see Matthew 19:4-6 for Jesusí definition of marriage). Something other than this arrangement is not what God calls marriage, and if I am to "speak as the utterances of God" then I don't either.

Loving Service According to our Ability
A parrot can quote God. I am nothing much more than that if I find myself "parroting" but not practicing the utterances of God. I can become just an empty sound (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). If I know and speak the truth, but am cold, unloving, suspicious or selfish in my daily manner of living, then I have not arrived at the kind of discipleship where the Lord desires for me to be!

There is room for both loving service as well as respect for Godís authority in every aspect of life. Speaking the truth is to be done in love, but it must be spoken, not hidden, and the two need not be incompatible (Ephesians 4:15-16; 22-24; 26; 29; GAL 6:10).

God has given us abilities, gifts and strengths. We ought not to waste them (Hebrews 6:11-12). We are not responsible for that which is beyond the abilities that God has given us (2 Corinthians 10:13-14; 17-18). All the good we can do is only possible because of the One who has given us our abilities and opportunities. (1 Corinthians 3:5-7; 4:2; 7).

That God May Be Glorified
God is glorified by the things which originate with Him - To disobey God does not bring Him glory (Colossians 3:17)! We must neither deny our ability to avoid responsibility (False humility is often an excuse for spiritual neglect and laziness) nor use a God-given ability to act where we ought not. Just because I can do something does not mean I necessarily ought to do it! Neither of these will bring God glory!

God is glorified by our righteous and loving treatment of one another. To be together and speak with one voice - God's utterance - is to bring God glory (Romans 15:5-7). This is the commandment of Jesus (John 15:8; 12-14).

These two texts (Matthew 5:16 and 1 Peter 4:10-11) show us the need for both loving, active service and a deep respect for God's authority. The end result of this will be to one day share the glory of God in ways we can now scarcely imagine! This is our hope and we would like all to share it with us. It is available in Jesus Christ.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 19.9; September 2012