the weblog of Alan Knox

Pervasive Mutuality – 1 Peter 4:7-11

Posted by on Jun 7, 2013 in discipleship, edification, fellowship, scripture | 3 comments

Whenever I talk about mutuality, I tend to focus on a few passages, such as Ephesians 4:7-16 or 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. However, mutuality (the one-another’ing aspect of our lives together in Christ) is actually very pervasive (widespread) in Scripture.

One of those mutuality passages is 1 Peter 4:7-11. In his first letter, Peter writes about suffering while living in Christ. In chapter 4, Peter talks about those who are choose to live their own way and are surprised with God’s people refuse to go along with it.

According to Peter, what should our response be when we are maligned because we refuse to live according to immoral cultural norms? He writes:

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7-11 ESV)

So, what is Peter’s answer to living in a society filled with “living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry”? (1 Peter 4:3 ESV) His answer is self-control, sober-mindedness, love, hospitality, and service. While the first couple of things (self-control and sober-mindedness) can be personal, the last three are very practices of mutuality: love, hospitality, and service.

In this passage, Peter stresses love, because, as he says, “love covers a multitude of sins.” It’s clear that he’s talking about sins among and between brothers and sisters in Christ, since he introduced this with “keep loving one another earnestly.” In other words, even when someone sins against you or sins against your sister/brother, keep on loving that person earnestly – really – truly – in deed, not just in words. (By the way, I find it both interesting and important that almost every “mutuality” passage in Scripture includes a focus on love.)

Next he encourages his readers to open their homes to one another and practice hospitality “without grumbling.” While hospitality is always an important way for us to demonstrate our love and support to our brothers and sisters in Christ, it becomes even more important when Christians are being persecuted. When we open our homes, we share our lives, and this is extremely important to our maturity in Christ.

Finally, Peter concludes this mutuality passage with a focus on spiritual gifts. Believe it or not, this is my favorite scriptural passage on spiritual gifts. Peter reminds us that these gives are given to us for the sake of others – to serve them -not for our own sake. I love how Peter boils down all spiritual gifts into two categories: speaking and serving. And, whenever we do those things, we do them from God, not from ourselves.

Once again we see that mutuality among the body of Christ is extremely important and is found throughout the writings of Scripture.


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  1. 6-7-2013

    yay! 🙂 I love how widespread this is in the Bible!!

    It really IS His heart for us to be used in each other’s lives and be His hands, feet, love for each other… so we can grow up in Christ.

    In my own personal journey this week, He showed me that truth again. I was wrestling with God over a common issue I go back and forth on…and that’s just my fear of making mistakes and fear of doing things ‘wrong’ in my day. I was pretty much having a terrible attitude with the Lord pleading with Him why He doesn’t just tell us very clearly, audibly what exactly our day ‘should’ specifically look like. I tell Him that I want clear, very clear, direct “do this” commands…. but the truth is I don’t. He is perfect. He knows what we need and how to make us move to do His plan.

    He mercifully gave me some undeserved insight after I wrestled with Him. One of the insights I felt Him pressing on me was that if He did what I wanted…gave clear commands to each person of exactly what to do next…. we would make the mistake of thinking we don’t need each other. That thought hit me like a brick.

    I do understand now there’s so many reasons for the way God chooses to do things and make our journey here look. I don’t understand them all – but I am beginning to see more and more that I can trust that if I just point my heart in His direction each day, open my heart up to His love and practice working out my love muscle with those He has put into my life….. He will lead me and I will be headed in the ‘right’ direction. AND He will communicate to me! and He will make things right.

    I am free to do whatever my personality feels inclined to do to help point me in His direction every day. Set goals, break them into small steps, have a structure to what I want to do in each day. As long as the motive is right (to help me stay focused on Him) then they can help me! I have to let me be me. I feel like so many people around me rebel against anything that looks at all structured, dependent on self….. but the truth is… one of my personality strengths IS to have goals, break things down into parts and keep myself disciplined & in focus. I just am not going to be a – no plans, floating wherever the wind leads me person anytime soon. A huge reason is because of the role I am in now as wife & mother. There’s nothing inherently wrong with structures or routines…. when it’s done in the right heart & motive. I guess the final realization is that I can be Spirit lead… and still be an achiever! 🙂

    ohhh so much rambling. My point is, my day can look how I choose it to look. Every body’s personality and experience & role is different…. so everybody’s daily routines are different. I don’t know why I forget that.

    The goal is always that He wants me to love Him and love others and that really is the priority.

    I really appreciate so much about Him the way that He gives us SO MUCH ROOM to just take the 2 greatest commandments, give us His Word to learn more and more what love is and then just let us go do. All the while, He is making our ridiculous detours lead us back to safety (like the perfect shepherd He is)…taking our misunderstandings of Him or extreme thinking of Him and making sure we cross paths with somebody to balance us….. and all the way He is communicating to us through each other…our surroundings, through His Spirit in us & His Word….

    and finally — He is making sure we know we need each other.

    Thanks for listening.

    OH and

    “I love how Peter boils down all spiritual gifts into two categories: speaking and serving.”

    I never recognized or knew that – that’s cool!

  2. 6-9-2013


    Yes, it really is widespread (pervasive).


  3. 6-9-2013

    Thank you for clarifying “pervasive” = widespread. I didn’t realize they were synonyms.