Peter of Bethsaida: Material and proper use

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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 anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they 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. 1 Peter 4:10-11

“Peter himself will explain, for he continues, “Carried away by igno­rance and not knowing God as we do, according to the perfect knowledge, but shaping those things over which he gave them power for their use, wood and stones, brass and iron, gold and silver, forgetting their material and proper use, they set up things subservient to their existence and worship them; and what things God has given them for food, the fowls of the air and the creatures that swim in the sea and creep on the earth, wild beasts and four-footed cattle of the field, weasels too and mice, cats and dogs and apes; even their own food­ stuffs do they sacrifice to animals that can be consumed and, offering dead things to the dead as if they were gods, they show ingratitude to God since by these practices they deny that he ex­ists. . . .”

“The Teaching of Peter” reported by Bart Ehrman in Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It Into The New Testament (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).

This excerpt attributed to the Apostle Peter comes to us from the writings of Clement of Alexandria in his Stromata 6.5.39–41. These words of Peter were circulated in the window of Clement’s life (A.D. 150-215).

Peter cares about the right “use” of what we have. In his first epistle he challenges us to use whatever gift (Greek singular) God has given us. That implies we are each like one piece in God’s big puzzle.

In this excerpt of Peter’s teaching, he speaks of the material and proper use of things in a world, back then and now, where people don’t use things rightly and, in so doing, demonstrate ingratitude to God.

Ponder for a moment then what the material and right “use” of your gift and your goods would be. Things have been given to us as gifts from God. But we must not make them the object of our desire. We must use them for good.