A Meditation on 1Peter 5:5-10

January 28, 2008

The Apostle Peter writes, “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. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a litttle while, the God of grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1Peter 5:5-11).

Humility and glory. These are not two words that are naturally linked together. And yet, humility is not only the path to Christ-likeness, but it is the marker of Christ-likeness. Paul wrote, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves…have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” In Peter’s instruction we learn a couple of things about humility: (1) We learn about the posture of humility; (2) We learn about the difficulties of humility; (3) We learn about the glory of humility.

Peter tells us that we are to assume a posture of humility before all believers, but especially those who have spiritual authority and responsibility for your well-being in the Lord Jesus (think pastors/elders; 5:1-4). In order to understand the posture of humility, one must first consider a biblical definition of humility. Paul gives us a good idea in Philippians 2 when he tells us to follow the example of Jesus who came, not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28). However, we cannot truly understand or examine our motives for service apart from the gospel. In order for us to really understand and practice humility, we must see our need for the gospel as we see ourselves as God see us. C.J. Mahaney have provided an excellent defination of humility: humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness. By giving this defintion serious contemplation it reveals that the only way for us to serve others in humility in a way that honors Jesus and does not cheapen the gospel is for us to understand that no one is deserving of our service to them any more than we are deserving of God’s acceptance of us in the gospel. Once this truth informs and tranforms our thinking, we are then able to observe the proper posture of humility, which is to serve others for their good, considering their needs above our own (for more on this subject you should read CJ Mahaney’s book Humility. This is a must read for 2008).

The difficulties of humility are obvious. We are all selfish creatures who allow our desires to dictate every relational encounter we have in life. The humility required to serve others is difficult because we grow weary of lack of recognition, frustrated at ingratitude, angered by insensitivity, exaserbated by lack of reciprocation, and disenfranchized by lack of love. However, these are not the only reasons that humility is difficult. It is also hard because the enemy seeks to exploit these feelings. It would be enough that we have to battle our own pretentious needs for praise and adulation. But we also must be aware that Satan desires to use these feelings to discourage being a humble person. For most of us, if we suffer for serving as a humble person, we will grow discouraged and fail to live as Jesus desires. This is precisely why Peter tells us that there is glory to be had in the life of humility.

Serving with humility on this earth is hard. But if we keep in mind Peter’s words it provides a compelling motive to remain faithful to the demand of the gospel when we grow weary and discouraged. Peter says, “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.” We have been called to share in the glory of Christ, and all of the times where our service seemed pointless or unrecognized, where placing the needs of others above our own seemed fruitless or brought about persecution, those humble efforts will be revealed to be of greater value than the life driven by selfish ambitions and pursuits.

So let us clothe ourselves in humility toward one another, praying that the Spirit would manifest His presence in our lives, so that the worth of our labors in the gospel would be revealed to be worthy of eternal glory in Jesus.

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