5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (ESV)
In our last lesson we studied Peter’s commands to the shepherds, directing them how to lead the flock. We concluded with the instruction that we, as the flock, are to yield to our shepherds. They have charge over us and we are to yield to their example and direction. Peter now turns his attention back to all Christians. Notice the phrase, “all of you.” So every Christian is in view as Peter gives these final commands.
The first command is that Christians clothe themselves with humility toward one another. Wear humility. Scholars say that this Greek word which is translated “clothe yourselves” is a rare word that was used to refer to a slave putting on an apron before serving (Expositor’s Bible Commentary; NICNT). The servant’s attire is the clothing of humility. Shepherds are to be humble. The sheep are to be humble. We must treat one another with the proper frame of mind that we are not anybody. I am not greater than you. You are not higher than me. We are simply disciples of Jesus working together. Churches that try to make a distinction between the leaders and the flock through titles and robes are not keeping Peter’s command. I bear no titles and should not be addressed with a title and neither should our shepherds. We are fellow servants, as Peter even described himself as a fellow shepherd and partaker in the glory of Jesus.
The reason we are to clothe ourselves with humility is because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” This is quotation from Proverbs 3:34. We need to slow down and think about these words for a moment. First, God opposes us when we are proud. When we lack humility, God stands against us. God is not with the proud. Now, everyone thinks they are humble. But our actions reflect if we truly are humble. When we put ourselves first, we are proud and not humble. When we think about ourselves first, we are proud. When we lack compassion and care for others, then we lack humility. Notice the rest of the quotation: God does not give us grace when we are not humble. God gives grace to the humble, not to the proud. All of us I think recognize that we need to grace of God. We are deserving of God’s wrath because of our sinfulness. But God does not give grace to the proud and arrogant. Grace is given to those who act humbly.
Interestingly, this quotation also acts as a hinge for Peter to return to the discussion of Christian suffering. Since God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble, we need to humble ourselves. Consider that we are not humble toward each other. We like to humble each other by humiliating one another. Humble yourself. We are not to put people in their place. Put yourself in your own place.
But Peter does not leave the point there. We are to humble ourselves “under God’s mighty hand.” This phrase, “under God’s mighty hand,” reaches back to the theme of the letter and the context of 4:16-17. You are going to suffer as a Christian. You will be persecuted for righteousness. Humble yourselves when those circumstances come. It is during these times of suffering that we need to learn humility. It is not the time to fall apart when suffering. It is not the time to return evil for evil or malign those who malign us. It is certainly not the time for us to rail against God because we are enduring hardships for him. Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand. Realize who we are and who God is. We are nothing and God is everything. God is in charge, not us. Trust in God, not yourself. We are proud when we trust in ourselves. Humble yourself. Trust God.
When we humble ourselves in these trying circumstances, God will respond to our humility with exaltation. In due time, or, at the proper time, God will exalt us. Our exaltation will not be here while on the earth. But at the glorious return of Jesus, those who allow themselves to be humbled under God’s mighty hand are those who will find grace. I hope we can see the point Peter has made. Humble yourselves during your suffering and God will exalt you at his return, giving grace.
So how do we do this? How are we going to humble ourselves during severe trials and suffering? Peter continues, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Some translations like the NIV and NRSV ruin this verse by starting a new sentence. But verse 7 is not a separate instruction. Rather, casting all our anxieties on him is how we humble ourselves. Pride refuses to let go of those worries and anxieties. Worry and anxiety is pride because it frequently suggests that we are in control and that God is not active. It is a product of our lack of faith that God will act on our behalf when enduring trials and suffering for his sake.
Cast ALL you anxieties on God. Give God everything. Let God handle it. Let God work and put your trust in him. We often put only some of our anxieties on God. But God wants all of them. There is nothing too great or too important that God cannot handle. Cast your anxieties on God because he cares for you. No other world religion teaches that God cares for his people. God cares so much that he wants you to bring him all of your problems.
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:22; TNIV)
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6; HCSB)
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (ESV)
Be clear-minded and alert during these hardships and difficult times. Know what you are up against and what the devil is attempting to do to you. Notice that the devil is not pictured as a cute koala bear in a tree. He is not pictured as a kitten who roams around playing with yarn and stretching out on the floor. He is pictured as a lion on the prowl, devouring everyone he can. The devil is not playing around. Now, what should we do with the knowledge that there is a hungry lion on the loose? Sheep must not be sleeping. Shepherds must be alert and watchful. There is a lion on the loose. We cannot fall asleep in our faith. We cannot stop for a rest in our faith. A lion is on the prowl. No one sits comfortably with a lion on the loose. See the enemy that we have. Resist him and stand firm in your faith. Resist him, knowing that others are resisting him with you. Resist him, knowing that we are not alone with our struggle against the devil. Resist him, knowing that there are others who are suffering for Jesus just like you are.
Verses 10-11 conclude the admonitions and conclude the letter. Put your trust in God while suffering for a little while. In doing so God has promised to restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us. Though rejected by the world, you have been called by God. You are chosen by God, though cast off by the world. Though we suffer as Christians, God can still bring us to his intended purpose and goal. When suffering, put your eyes on the goal. God has called you to his eternal glory. God will bring you into his arms if you will remain firm in the faith. Peter’s words have come full circle because this is the point that Peter made at the beginning of the letter.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (ESV)
These words should have deep meaning to the Christian as Peter has shown us that we can endure suffering. God will bring us through to the end. Have the humility to endure, placing your trust in Jesus to get you through to the end.
- Prepare your minds for action, and do not be conformed to passions of this world.
- Know that you are God’s holy people, chosen, precious, and valuable.
- Live honorably, yielding to human authorities.
- Act properly in marriage, seeking out the best interests of each other.
- Don’t be surprised that you suffer for the name of Jesus. People will be surprised that you do not act like them.
- Don’t be ashamed of that suffering. Place your trust in God who judges justly, just like Jesus did.
- Listen to your shepherds and follow their leadership.
- Humble yourselves because God gives grace to the humble, not to those who trust in themselves during hard times.