At the beginning of each month we are considering our theme: Together. In this we are studying the passages in the New Testament that teach us how we are to treat one another in Christ. Today we are going to consider the “one another” passage in 1 Peter 5.
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5–7 ESV)
Wear Humility (1 Peter 5:5)
Notice the picture that the apostle Peter gives to us. “All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” First, we must consider what it means to be humble. What is humility? There are a lot of false ideas about what humility is. Humility is not self-degradation. Putting yourself down is not humility. Thinking badly about yourself is not humility. Putting yourself down and thinking badly about yourself is not humility because you are still thinking about yourself and paying attention to yourself.
Humility is not thinking about self at all. Rather, humility is thinking about others first and putting others first. Listen to Paul’s explanation of humility when looking at Jesus.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3–4 ESV)
Humility is the counting of others as more significant and the looking out for the interests of others. Humility does not consider self. Humility does nothing from selfishness or arrogance. Humility means not drawing attention to ourselves and is glad to not take any credit or acknowledgement. Humility is not putting yourself in the limelight. Humility doesn’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing (cf. Matthew 6:3). Humility is not motivated by self. Humility is not thinking about self. Humility does not put itself in the front or parade itself. Humility desires no attention.
Now notice that Peter does not merely say to be humble. Rather, Peter gives us a picture. Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. Why is humility described as clothing? For one thing humility is a characteristic that people should see. Our uniform as a Christian is humility. That is what we wear. It is a picture like we read about in John 13 where Jesus removes his robe, ties a towel around his waist, and washes the disciples’ feet. He wore the clothing that displayed humility. People will look at us and they will not see us making much of ourselves or trying to get people to pay attention to us or think about us. People will look at us and they will see us drawing attention to God and to others.
Why Humility? (1 Peter 5:5)
Why is it so important that we make this change from selfishness to humility? Peter gives us the reason why in the rest of verse 5. “For God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Peter quotes Proverbs 3:34 and gives us our greatest motivation for practicing humility toward one another. God opposes the proud. The picture is of God standing against the person who does not practice humility. God resists and opposes such a person. This should be a frightening thought. If we do not wear humility like clothing on us, God stands against us. The picture is pushed even further. God gives grace to the humble. If we are not wearing humility as clothing, God will not give us his grace. A lack of humility sets a person against God. Listen to how Isaiah declared God’s message.
But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:2 ESV)
God shows favor to the person who is humble, who is broken in heart and spirit, and trembles at God’s word. This message should ring loudly in our minds and hearts. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. Thinking about self sets me against my Lord. Thinking about others allows me to receive God’s grace. Pride is in opposition to God.
Humble Yourselves (1 Peter 5:6)
Because God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble, we must have a particular response. Notice what we are to do in verse 6. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God.” This is an action we must take in our lives. Humble ourselves. We are to bow to God’s mighty hand. The foundation of humility is a dependent attitude toward God and his ability to rescue. Humbling ourselves is submitting ourselves to the will of God (cf. James 4:6-7,10). Humbling ourselves is yielding our will to God’s will. Pride is the reason why we resist God. Pride opposes and dishonors God and his might. Submit to the mighty hand of God. This idea is exactly how Paul continues in Philippians 2 in describing the humility of Christ. Listen to what Paul said:
He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death. (Philippians 2:8 ESV)
How did Jesus humble himself? He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the will of God. Jesus yielded his will of self-preservation and self-glorification and obediently followed God’s will which was for Jesus to die a death on the cross. Humility is dying to self-will. Humility is the subjugation of our will for the exalting of God’s will in our lives. Humility is elevating what other people want and need over what I want and need.
This humbling of ourselves is not for nothing. There is a joy that is set before us. Remember that Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death. Paul continues by saying that because of this, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9). Listen to what Peter says concerning us. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” The picture is that we are following in the footsteps of Jesus. Jesus clothed himself with humility and yielded his life and will. At the proper time God exalted him. We clothe ourselves with humility and yield our life and will. At the proper time God will also exalt us. We humble ourselves by looking to Jesus and seeing how he humbled himself. Now there is one more picture that Peter gives to us in verse 7.
Casting All Your Anxieties On Him (1 Peter 5:7)
Peter shows us what humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God will look like in our daily living. Humility looks like throwing our cares and anxieties at God. How is this humility? Why does throwing your anxieties and worries on the Lord show humility? We are admitting that we have no power over the circumstances in our lives. Humility says that I cannot carry my load, cares, and anxieties. Pride does not do this. Pride depends on self. Pride exalts independence. Humility means I do not take everything on myself but I look to God. Casting your anxieties on God is the path to humility, freeing us from the constant concern for self and enabling us to have a concern for the needs of others. We need to throw our anxieties off of us and on to God.
How do we throw our anxieties on God? Prayer is the means by which we take these concerns and move them off of ourselves and give them to God. A praying life reveals a humble life. Pride does not pray. Pride says “I can do it.” Prayer says “I cannot do it but God can.” Give your anxieties to God. Throw them on him for this is one of the ways we practice humility.
Now why should we do this? Peter already told us earlier that we need to do this because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. But notice that Peter gives us another reason why we must cast our anxieties on the Lord. Listen to it at the end of verse 7: “Because he cares for you.” Amazing! God is concerned with his creation. God cares. God has an active concern for his people. God is not indifferent. He is not indifferent to our sufferings. He is not indifferent to our trials and pains. We are recognizing that God cares for us. God has promised that he will take care of us (Matthew 6:26-30). We can humble ourselves and give our cares to God because God cares for us and he will exalt us at the proper time.
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22 ESV)
Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. This is an important aspect of our unity that we are called to have in the body of Christ. Think about others, not yourself. Submit to the will of God, not your own will. Seek out the best interests of others. Cast your cares and anxieties upon the Lord because he does care for you.