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.