Nov. 20, 2013 Civility in Xian Scripture
November 20: Civility is faithful service to God!
1 Peter 4:8-11, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If you speak, you should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If you serve, you should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
I am a steward. You are a steward. What a great word! It means that you and I are the operating agents of God who manage and dispense the “properties” and “affairs” of God in the world. Peter is helpful enough to name exactly what we are stewards of: God’s grace.
In speaking and serving others, using whatever gifts and abilities with which we have been blessed, we dispense God’s grace and cover sins with love. Amazing. The word really encompasses a lot about us. In the Greek an oikonomoi was a household servant, the servant who apportioned things, managing affairs and resources of the household on behalf of the master of the house. In this case, in 1 Peter 4, we are the faithful servants apportioning God’s grace in love to cover sins and to serve joyfully the people around us. The passage above is quoted from Today’s New International Version, and in the Common English Bible oikonomoi is translated to be “manager.” We are managing God’s grace and gifting in our lives to the benefit of the people around us.
Here’s the catch… we aren’t just apportioning grace to the deserving, but also to those who have sinned or in some way become less deserving. This where we find the biblical truth of the day to teach us something of our civility. We aren’t meant to be walking talking dispensers of God’s wrath for people, punishing sins, withholding grace and replying to incivility with incivility. We are meant to be the people who dispense grace when needed to cover sins, love and service to the least deserving, faithful to the God who employs us in the household of the earth.
The point of all this is to give glory to God in Jesus Christ. Our faithful stewardship, our service to others, our love and absence of “grumbling,” all of it accrues to the glory of God, showing God’s greatness in this world. Incivility probably breaks in through me most when I begin worrying about my own glory or begin to hold back the grace I am sent to share.
Saving God, let grace flow through me
unimpeded to the people most needing
whether or not they can see
it is your love and grace that drives
any gifts they might receive
filling and quickening our lives
I’m your steward but I pray
for love to cover my own sins
to be kept in your kingdom this day