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Echo Evangelique

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Humble Yourself before The Lord

Text: 1 Peter 5: 6-7

Key Concepts:

  • Humility in the context of suffering
  • We are commanded to humble ourselves
  • We need to allow God to teach us to be humble
  • Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God

Pride is a sin that persistently threatens to overtake our lives.  It is one of the few traits that shows no sign of weaking even with age. Pride got Lucifer booted out of heaven. Pride caused the downfall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Pride ruins everything it touches. The Bible wisely warns us that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18, NKJV).  Humility, however, is extraordinary and elusive. D.L. Moody says it well, “Be humble or you will stumble.”  The Word of God encourages but also commands us to be humble. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5: 6-7, NKJV). 

Humility in the context of suffering

Peter’s letter was addressed to Christians who were spread throughout the Roman Empire. They were being persecuted and Peter is writing to encourage them. His audience is a group of suffering people.  However, Peter doesn't tell them that God wants them to be healthy, wealthy, and happy. Instead, he tells them to be humble. He talks to them about humility in the context of suffering. Peter uses the word or the topic of suffering 21 times in this epistle. How is it that while writing to encourage a bunch of people who are suffering, he tells them to humble and to submit themselves to the leadership over them? In the midst of suffering, you need good leadership. You also need good followers to submit. Peter calls leaders to submit and believers to submit to the leaders. Then he tells them to submit to one another. Peter is telling us that submission and humility are pervasive attributes that all Christians should demonstrate. Submission is a very familiar theme for Peter. “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (1 Pet. 2:13, NKJV).  He urges slaves to submit in reverent fear of God (2:18). He encourages wives to submit to their husbands (3:1). He calls angels, powers and authorities to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ (3:22). Submission--the prerequisite for humility-- is part of every realm of life because it is a foundational attitude in life. We are to be humble horizontally- with one another, but also vertically- vis-a-vis God. Mostly we accept that we must be humble before God, but it isn’t so for people we deem insignificant. Peter gives us three points to consider. First, he gives us a command. He tells us that we have a responsibility to humble ourselves. Secondly, he gives us the procedure. He tells us that we are to cast all our care on God.  Third and final point will look at the motivation for us to do so-- because God cares for us.

We are commanded to humble ourselves

God is not going to let us get away with arrogant independence without his personal opposition. “’God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Pet. 5:5, NKJV).  The text gives us two reasons why God is so upset with pride and arrogance. First, the proud person dishonors God because she/he fails to acknowledge that all she/he has and all he/she is, is by the grace of God. The proud person also dishonors and hurts others. They can ruin theirs and others’ lives.   Eventually pride leads to a fall of a person, of a church and of a nation.  in verse 6. This occurs in a context where leaders are warned against lording it over the flock. And where young people are exhorted to submit themselves to the elders. Peter reminds both old and young to submit (6).   Shepherds are to lead the way Christ would. Young people, your intelligence is no substitute for experience. You must submit to the leadership God established.  Arrogance is harmful. It is a hindrance to effective ministry because it paralyzes the body of Christ. When no one submits, no one is humble, we find ourselves in a hellish situation, where people are so preoccupied with themselves that they fail to see in helping others they would be helping themselves. Humility does not consider its interests alone. It puts the interests of others ahead of his/her own.

We need to allow God to teach you to be humble

The imperative to submit ourselves to God points to a responsibility that we have to obey and respond to. A clearer translation of the Greek text would say “be humble.” It would be better understood as allow yourselves to be humbled. Peter seems to be telling us to submit ourselves to the humbling process of God. It's not us doing the humbling. But rather, it’s an openness to being humbled by God.  See, that's God's desire. He wants to bring us to a place where, rather than depending on ourselves, we depend upon Him. Because dependence on God honors God. It is the place of blessing and fruitfulness. It is the equivalent of the branch that depends on the vine. Peter mentions it more than twenty one (21) times in the epistle.  Peter sees suffering as a necessary element of the Christian life. As a loving father, God uses suffering under control. He uses the experience of trials and testing our lives to cause us to grow. Suffering is designed to help us see our limitations as people. And rather than depend on our human schemes and strategies, it teaches us to live by faith in Him. It forces our faith to come to the surface. It puts our faith to work. It purifies. It cleanses us from a life of dependence and leads us to depend on God. Suffering helps us see our weakness so that we can respond to God's greatness. When we understand properly who we are versus who God is, we don't rush into things like arrogant fools. Humility is a fitting response to greatness.

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God

Peter says that we ought to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. That should draw our attention to who we are vs. who God is. Indeed we are creatures, servants of the sovereign creator. Regardless of how sovereign men may feel they are, regardless of how much power we think we have to report, we’re not much. We need to recognize that we are all fragile, limited and extremely flawed. Everything we have could be… gone in an instant. God’s mighty hand reminds us of who God is. He is The Sovereign Lord. “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all” (Ps. 103:19, NKJV).  The psalmist teaches us that “our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases” (Ps 115:3, NKJV). The Lord Himself tells us that ‘“Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool”’ (IS. 66:1). We thus live on God’s footstool, under His sovereign authority. Whatever influence you think you have, it is minuscule compared to God's. And God is just allowing you to have that influence under his mighty hand. The expression ‘mighty hand of God’ refers to his power to discipline or deliver us. We are often in need of God's deliverance because we can't deliver ourselves. We're often in need of God's discipline because we think too highly of ourselves. And so we should allow God to bring us to submission because we're in need of that. Humble yourself before God “so that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Pet. 5:6, NASB). At the right time, God will lift you up. Our successes are not about our efforts, but about God’s blessings upon us. No matter how long God may seem to delay, we should never take matters into our own hands. We should never seek to lift ourselves up by our own means. Allow God’s humbling process to transform you into the image of His Son. The lifting up process is first a humbling process. Humility requires a lot of prayer, prayer for the death of pride. Don't think you can be humbled easily. Secondly it takes much rejection of praise. Thirdly, we also have to confess our sins and recognize where we have failed. And lastly, we need to put our confidence in a caring God.

In conclusion …

Peter urges us to humble ourselves, by casting your anxiety on Him. In the original language ‘casting’ has the same meaning as unloading one’s burden. God invites us to put all our anxieties on Him. The Greek term that translates to anxiety is made of two terms, one means to tear apart, the other the mind. Anxiety means “what tears your mind apart.” We cannot handle our own burdens, but God is able. Peter adds the qualifier ‘all’ before anxiety. So we are to bring to God everything that burdens and seeks to crush us. Why? Because He cares (present-continuing-tense, i.e. He is caring for you). There are people you can share your troubles with. They can't do much. But God is able. That is why my brethren, anxiety is a contradiction to humility. When you know who God is, and when you know God's on your side, you need not worry about things because it is God’s will take care of you. It is basically the same argument that Jesus uses in Matthew chapter six (6). Our anxiety and worry show that our priorities are misaligned. He invites us to look at the birds in the air and the flowers in the fields. If God cares about those things, won't He care for us even more. If He gave us His Son, won’t He likewise give us all things that are necessary. Believer, Christian, the righteous, we live by faith knowing that when we commit something to our God, we can trust him to produce the necessary change. Consider the story of Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1Sam. 10). She went to God greatly distressed. Heartbroken, she poured her heart out to the Lord and wept bitterly and gave Him her burden. Then Hannah got up, she went away, and her face was no longer sad. In the story, both Eli and Hannah showed great humility. Hannah later got what she sought after. God does not always give us what we want, but we still need to humble ourselves.  The first step of humility is to come before God in repentance and acknowledging that you're a Sinner. You cannot enter the Kingdom of God If you won't bow before the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have not yet trusted your life to Jesus, won’t you bow before Him? And watch Him turn your life into what He originally designed. And if you already know Him, wont you allow Him to humble you today?  

 

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