The first few verses of 1 Peter 5 are addressed to elders, but as Peter draws some application from his instructions, he shifts his focus to all of his readers. Take a look at what he says in 1 Peter 5:5-7.
These three verses of 1 Peter 5 may be some of the most well known, and most often memorized. They are very encouraging, but they are also very much to the point, and contain some instructions that we need to make sure we follow closely. They deal with the topic of humility.
First of all, Peter gives a parallel to his instructions concerning elders to the younger men of the church community. There is some debate among commentators as to whether this is in direct contrast to his remarks to elders, or just a linguistic mechanism to shift gears. Based on what he states here, I feel that he is offering some instructions for both men and women, and especially as it relates to submitting to the authority of the elders’ leadership, who have the responsibility of overseeing, or shepherding, the flock under their care.
Those instructions are a close parallel to what he has already given to the elders. The elders are not to “lord it over” those in their care; and in the same way, those younger are to submit to the authority of the elders and leadership. Both sides of this relationship are to be characterized by humility, much like Peter stated back in chapter 3, verse 8. To reinforce this, Peter quotes Proverbs 3:34, where we are told that God opposed arrogance, and seeks an attitude of humility in our hearts.
Because God is seeking humility, it would be in our best interests, as we strive to serve and follow him, to seek it in our lives as well. In the first century, under severe persecution, this would have been a difficult attitude to keep, and Peter seeks to encourage his readers. In the twenty-first century, we may not experience the same degree of persecution, but the levels of arrogance in our culture have not diminished any.
God has a purpose for our lives, and for our circumstances. Our role is to be humble and accept what he gives, or allows, and seek to learn from it, and lean on him, knowing that in the end, it is ultimately for God’s own glory. And, Peter says, God will include us in that; when we express humility, in due time, God will lift us up. That may happen in this lifetime, but it most certainly will in the eternity to follow in the presence of God himself.
In light of this, Peter tells his readers to cast all their anxiety upon the Father. This is not a new instruction, but an explanation and example of what it means to live in humility under God’s mighty hand. Because of his care, we can entrust ourselves to him.
These are powerful words, and ones that we seem to have a hard time following and obeying. All to often, I find myself living in arrogance instead of humility, and holding on to my anxiety and cares instead of giving them to God. We are so used to doing these things that we don’t even know what it means to live in humility sometimes. But this is an attitude that we must learn if we are to seek and serve God. Peter’s encouragement is clear, but there’s a warning here too: God opposes the proud.
We must learn to let our pride go.
Question: How is your pride/humility level? What do you need to do to live more in an attitude of humility and less in one of pride? You can leave a comment by clicking here.