Humble Service to the King
1 Peter 5:5-9
Mutual submission is the key to the pattern of life in Christ’s church. Peter keeps returning to this theme. Christians are to find their freedom in their submission to God, freedom in which they can submit to others for the Lord’s sake. When Peter says likewise (5:5), he is continuing his application of this master principle to all the roles and relations of Christ’s church.
Peter’s call to humility is not just for the young. We all are to ‘tie on humility’ in our relations to one another. The verb suggests the tying on of a servant’s apron. Peter remembered the towel that Jesus tied around his waist when he filled a basin and began to wash the feet of his disciples (Jn. 13:4). ‘The humility of those who serve Christ is not merely the absence of pride or the awareness of limitations. Christian humility is realism that recognizes grace.’ Paul declares: “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7).
The Christian knows that he did not make himself or save himself. His humility springs from his total dependence on the grace of God. Added to that is the calling and example of his Savior, who had everything to boast of, but “humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8).
The humility that serves others is found at the throne of God’s grace. God opposes the proud, as Proverbs 3:34 teaches, not only because pride despises our fellow-creatures, but because pride rebels against God. The proud person sets himself against God, and God, in turn, sets himself against the proud. In contrast, God lifts up those who cast themselves utterly upon his grace.
Remembering the mighty hand of God should surely move us to humility. God’s hand had humbled Israel, purging out the rebels and bringing his people to repentance. Peter speaks of God’s hand, though, for another reason. He would remind us of God’s power to lift up the humble. At Pentecost Peter declared that Jesus was exalted by and to the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33). In God’s own time, when the Chief Shepherd appears, humble believers will be lifted up to share his glory.
Peter well knew the power of pride. He had boasted that although all others might deny Christ, he, Peter, would remain true (Matt. 26:33). From the height of that proud boast he fell into the abyss of denial. Was there ever a morning when the crowing of the cock did not remind Peter again of Jesus’ word predicting his denials? Yet Peter had been chastened, humbled and restored. His pride had cast him down, but his Lord had lifted him up. Humbled and restored, Peter now urges, “Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you” (5:7).
Then in a vivid image Peter warns the church of a deadly danger. Our image of a roaring lion may come from visits to the zoo, or from the zoom lens of a television nature series. Some who received Peter’s letter would have a stronger horror. They had seen human blood dripping from the chops of lions in the gory spectacles of a Roman amphitheater. The danger Peter sees does not come simply from hostile authorities. Lurking behind the ‘authorities and powers’ that dominate pagan life there moves a more fearful destroyer, the figure of Satan.
Peter calls on us to do what he had failed to do in the garden of Gethsemane: to watch and pray. Roaring Satan is a tethered lion. He cannot tempt us beyond what we can endure, for God will not permit it (1 Cor. 10:12-13). Not temptation can overtake us that is not common to man; a temptation that has been overcome by others. Peter reminds his hearers, “you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (5:9). The Lord who prayed for Peter prays for us.
If Satan is to be resisted, sober watchfulness is called for. Christian wisdom will recognize the seductions by which Satan would deceive the church as well as the imitations that he would substitute for it in an endless stream of counterfeit churches.
Peter has reminded us that the tests do not destroy our faith, but purify it. Since the peculiar nature of faith is its looking, not to oneself, but to the Lord, it is most strongly grounded when it is most dependent. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9-10). So the Lord said to Paul, and Paul could therefore say: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” In order to resist the devil we draw near to God (Jas. 4:8).
Peter is coming to the close of his letter and once again strikes the note of humble dependence upon God in serving, waiting, and watching. Are you? Join us this Lord’s Day as we look at 1 Peter 5:5-9.
Remember, immediately following our morning worship this Sunday, June 13, we will vote on the purchase of a church building. If you are unable to attend in person, you can contact one of the leadership team to state your desire. Keep praying. Keep giving.
Soli Deo Gloria,