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1 Peter 5:6-7
This is a letter Peter writes to struggling Christians. It is encouraging as many of us are struggling Christians. Whatever goes on in your life, if you’re the Lord’s, you’re being kept.
There’s a lovely phrase in Psalm 121 that says, ‘the Lord is your keeper.’ I want to encourage you this morning, whatever is going on in your life, whatever is going on in your heart, if you are the Lord’s, you are being kept. That’s the theme of this letter; Peter wants to encourage the struggling believers. The opening part of this letter is a reminder of the glorious hope that we in Christ possess. It’s a hope the world doesn’t understand unless there is divine revelation. It’s a hope that experiences the very real peace of God.
If you’re a Christian this morning, you’re being kept and will know the peace of God because you’re His. Even in darkness, we still possess this hope. God has a plan for His people and church, for you and me.
This is a letter. In chapter 5 Peter turns his attention to the local church, more particularly, to the elders (verse 1). For those who have been called to shepherd a flock of God, it’s a tremendous challenge to be the example to the flock. To see examples of shepherding, we look to the example of the One who the Shepherd. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.”
Leadership. I despair sometimes with all the books and seminars on leadership. I try to keep it simple. If I want to understand and seek examples of shepherding, leadership, of humility, then I just focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. I look to Jesus. How did He lead? He led by serving. As a pastor, I try to lead by serving. How do you do that? Not wishing to see one’s name up in the frame, or to see one’s name up in lights. There’s only one star in the local church and His name is the Lord Jesus Christ. The heart is for Christ to be seen, for Christ to be known, for Christ to receive all the praise, all the honour and all the glory. That Christ may be seen in you and me. That’s really challenging.
Christ humbled Himself, “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 5:6-7). Cast all your anxieties on Him. We can only dare to begin to think about casting our anxieties on Him if we understand humility. The text is in the context of humility.
We read on, “When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger.” So, we have the leaders in the church, now we have those who are younger. So, if you are a leader and you are young, then you’ve got both barrels here. “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.” (1 Peter 5:5).
Clothe yourselves, all of you. God’s Word is for everyone. How do we clothe ourselves? With humility toward one another. Christ was the supreme example; He led by serving, He humbled Himself. Those who want to lead for Christ, they lead by serving, humbling themselves. Those who are in subjection to the local leadership in the local church, who want to learn and to grow, unless there’s a teachable spirit, unless there’s true humility, they’re not going to learn. So many young Christians are not willing to humble themselves, not willing to possess a teachable spirit so they can grow and learn. Through older, more mature believers who are living the life, knowing they have a hope, knowing they are being kept, serving others, we can learn from them. We’re only going to learn if there’s humility.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God,” (1 Peter 5:6a). Isaiah says, ‘I am a man of unclean lips. I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips. Here I am. Send me. Use me.’ Here I am, available.
What Christ wants from His people today are ‘Fat’ Christians: faithful, available, teachable. That’s what God requires. Is that you? To be ‘fat’ needs humility. By coming to church, by coming to prayer meetings, by serving the community, is showing humility to a certain extent. But are we willing to be what He calls us to be? There’s a lot of action going on. Sometimes, it’s not what we do, it’s who we are.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” (1 Peter 5:6). Christ humbled Himself. Yet through His humbling of Himself, He does so in order that we can be exalted. That’s the real heart of God. He humbled Himself so that in due time we might be lifted up – lifted up from sorrow and shame.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” (1 Peter 5:6).
What’s the proper time? In God’s time! Nothing happens with God by accident. Everything is planned. Every detail in your life and mine is ordained by God. But what God calls you to be is people that are humble before Him. When we think of humility we think of meekness. Jesus was meek. The world thinks meekness is weakness. But weakness is power under control. Christ entered time and space. He became a man, the Word became flesh and tabernacled amongst us. He then lived a perfect life. He lived and fulfilled the law in all its detail. Jesus lived a life of submission to the Father. That’s how we’re being called to live here. Peter reminds believers that we need to be living that kind of life and being that kind of person that God call us to be – humble people, knowing the mighty hand of God. If we’re humble, we still may have problems, we still may have persecution. This word is a word for those who are up against it, for their love of the Lord.
‘Said the Robin to the Sparrow,
“I should really like to know why these anxious human beings
rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be, that they have no heavenly Father
such as cares for you and me.”
That’s a chorus you can sing to ‘What a friend we have in Jesus.’
Before you think, ‘I’ve lost the plot!’ turning to a rhyme about sparrows and robins, listen to the words of the Lord Jesus, “Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is life not more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
Friends, ‘I think that it must be that they have no heavenly Father such as cares for you and me.’
You are more precious than the birds of the air. You have a living soul. You are unique. There’s only one of you in the whole of creation. We’re made in the image of God, in His likeness. “Let us make man in our own image.” (Genesis). The Holy Spirit, the Son of God and God the Father were all actively involved in designing and creating you and me. And He set and placed eternity in the hearts of men and women, of boys and girls. But that image of God is distorted by sin – by our sinfulness, our fallenness.
Yet God has a made a way, a plan from before the foundation of the world. His plan involved a Man, His beloved Son – begotten not created – the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Word who took on flesh and became a man, but He was a God-Man. He went to the cross not just to deal with our sin, but also our anxieties and doubts, our sicknesses, our diseases. All these things were laid on Him. So, by faith in Him, by trusting in Him and His finished work on the cross, we have hope. One day there will be no more sickness, no more sorrow, no more dying. All this will be swept away. We’ll be with Him, we shall see Him, we shall know Him, we shall be like Him. We’ll be the exact representation of Him, as He is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1). When the Father looks into your heart, as a Christian, what does He see? He sees His Son, clothed in His righteousness, clothed in His perfection.
‘Casting’ is a little verb that’s on-going. If you humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, there’s no ‘golden buzzer.’ When He looks into you and me, He knows our sinfulness, our dilemmas, our anxieties and our cares. He knows. Casting means ‘to hurl’ everything upon him. It’s not just a one-off casting. Are you possessed with fear and anxieties? Is there trouble anywhere? Cast it, take it to the Lord in prayer. Tell Him. If I am casting everything upon Him, bringing everything to Him in prayer, every promise He’ll fulfil. He can also trace the smallest creature He has made, tenderly He, loves them all. He sits upon the circle of eternity, He who rules the universe. This sovereign, ruling, reigning God says, ‘Humble yourselves, clothe yourselves with humility, casting all your cares, all your anxieties, on Me.’
Part of our sinfulness is we try to sort things out ourselves. It’s part of living in a fallen world. If we adopt those principles that are worldly and sinful – that we are able, that we should be ourselves – we will end up with all sorts of problems, void of any peace and sense of hope. God says, ‘Humble yourself. Casting all your care, all your anxieties on Me.’ Why? He’s strong enough. He’s big enough. He is willing. He is able. Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.
The Lord Jesus says, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:27-33). Why? Because He cares.
The last two years have been particularly hard for many, many people: lockdown, the Pandemic, the accelerating cost of living. There’s a lot of anxiety and anxiousness in the world, even among His people. It would be easy to stick to focusing on what we can do to fix things. Yet, God says, “I care so much for you, just come to Me as you are.’ Humble yourself. Turn to Him. That’s the first step of humility. Say, ‘Lord, I need you.’ Come to Him as you are.
God wants you to come by faith and He lifts His arms as you come closer. Draw near to Him and He draws near to us. He’s standing here this morning and He wraps His arms around you and gives you a ‘heavenly cwtch.’ He wants to remind you how much He cares for you.
In the midst of pain, in the midst of sorrow and anxiety, we don’t always see what’s happening. God whispers into our heart, ‘Humble yourself, come to me, casting all your anxieties on Me because I care for you.’
When the days are dreary and the nights weary, I know my Saviour cares. May we humble ourselves, casting all our anxieties on Him because He cares for you.