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“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11)

You go to the doctor, and he tells you that you have three to six months to live. Now, what do you do with that? Obviously, there are going to be a lot of powerful emotions. You’re likely to be sad, afraid, and even angry. But after you accept the reality because you have no other choice, you are going to prioritize the most important things in life. There are certain affairs that you need to get in order. But then, you’re going to spend as much time as you can with your loved ones and say your final goodbyes. You’re going to spend your time doing the most important things because the time is short.

In our text, Peter reminds us that “the end of all things is at hand.” Jesus has accomplished everything needed for our redemption, and there’s nothing more to expect now except His second coming. Jesus will return, and when He does, He will take us to be with Him. What comfort!

What a call to urgency as well! We don’t know when Christ will return, so Peter is urging us to spend our time doing the most important things. He encourages us to “be serious and watchful in your prayers.” Prayer is a gift our Savior has entrusted to us as we wait for His return. As we consider the things that take place every day, we prioritize prayer: prayers for ourselves, our families, fellow believers, and for the many unbelievers in the world.

The fact that Jesus can return at any time should affect how we treat others. Sadly, our relationships with others—even our fellow Christians—often aren’t what they should be. We view what people say with suspicion and put the worst construction on their actions. But with the Last Day impending, there’s no time for that kind of attitude toward others. Rather, we should show “fervent love for one another” which “will cover a multitude of sins.” We recognize our own failings, and out of love we bear with the faults of others.

That love will sometimes manifest itself in providing for the physical welfare of others. As we show hospitality to others “without grumbling,” the door may be opened to share the Gospel while there is still time.

Finally, Peter encourages us to use the gifts we have been given to serve others, with the ultimate goal that God receives the glory. God has supplied each of us with a wide variety of gifts, and He has given us the privilege to be His mouth, hands, and feet as we use His gifts to share His Word and serve others.

“The end of all things is at hand.” We have been made alive in Christ, and know we will be with the Lord in the end. May we, through our words and actions, bring Christ to a world that is dead in sin so that many may become alive in Christ and join us at His reappearing.

We don’t know when Christ will return, so Peter is urging us to spend our time doing the most important things.

Robert Sauers is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Winter Haven, Florida, and a member of the CLC Board of Missions