ďHumble YourselvesĒ†††††††††††† 1 Peter 5:1-7†††††††††††††††††† August 21, 2011

 

SCRIPTURE INTRO:Weíre almost finished with 1 Peter.

†† Just today and next Sunday.Iíve loved this letter.

It presents such a grand, Christ-centered view of life.

†† The cross and the crown.Suffering and glory.

Through our union with Christ, our suffering is a path to glory, just like his.

 

From the perspective of eternity suffering is just a ďlittle while.Ē

†† We pass through this little while into our sure and imperishable inheritance.

In the sovereignty of God and through the work of the Holy Spirit,

†† our suffering is a purifying crucible in which the gold of our faith is purified.

 

Iíve loved it, but Iím ready to be finished.

But Peter is so focused on suffering

†† that Iíve found preaching through this letter hard.

 

Because I canít help thinking about many of you and your particular suffering.

†† Peterís words are so strong, so bluntóitís not that I donít think you can take it.

I worry that I wonít preach it with graceó

†† and that Iíll weigh you down instead of lift you up.

Thatís always a worry, but Iíve felt it even more strongly with this letter.

 

And this last chapter isnít fluffy.Itís just as strong and meaty and focused.

Peter has finished with his doctrinal teaching on suffering

†† He has just two more things to say of a practical nature.

 

First one, that we will study today is very blunt.

Peter says that there is one character quality above all that we are to cultivate

†† in the face of sufferingóboth as individuals and as a church body.

 

What is it?

 


 

INTRO:We took Adrienne to college Fridayóour alma mater, Covenant College

†† It was a great day and nobody cried, not even Allison.

This past year, after Adrienne was accepted at Covenant,

†† she went through a scholarship application process.

It involved essays and interviews.

†† While she was doing that, I ran across a humorous spoof

†† of a college scholarship letter.

 

Dear Ms. Jones:

 

The committee has received and reviewed your scholarship application.Your high school transcripts and standardized test scores are excellent.Academically speaking, you are the kind of student this fine college wants.

 

However, we have one serious concern about your application.When asked:Do you consider yourself a leader or a follower?You answered:I consider myself a follower.

 

This institution of higher learning prides itself in training the next generation of leaders.In fact, all of this yearís 1,265 incoming freshmen stated on their applications that they were leaders.Except one.You.Although we normally give scholarships only to student leaders, we have realized that our incoming freshmen will have difficulty leading without a follower such as yourself.

 

To that end, we would like to extend to you a full scholarshipótuition, room, and board.We hope you make the most of this opportunity to develop your following talents and abilities and one day, somehow, make this school proud.

 

Sincerely, etc.

 

Thatís obviously a tongue in cheek dig at American culture, American schooling.

Telling every kid in the class, year after year:Youíre all leaders.

†† Youíre all above average.The Lake Woebegone Syndrome.

I have no doubt that message works.It changes self-perception.

†† And Iím sure it makes some students more forward and assertive and successful

†† in a worldly senseóbecause those are the character traits the world often looks

†† for, and even rewards.

 

But does pride and assertiveness and self-promotion help you when you are

†† suffering?When you pass through the fire.When the important things

†† in your life are threatened or even lost, then what character traits,

†† and what self-perception will stand you in good stead?

Peter says itís humility.Itís being humble.

Thatís not what we would normally think of telling a suffering Christian.

†† During this little time of suffering in your life, you need to be humble.

†† But thatís exactly what Peter says to end his letter.

Humility will enable you to face suffering with great strength.

†† And hereís why:The opposite of humility is pride.

†† Pride appears in many forms.And one form of pride is anxiety.

 

Anxiety is your imagination running wild without trust in God.

†† Itís rooted in a deep sense that God is not doing things right.

†† If he was, I wouldnít be in this mess, I wouldnít be suffering this loss.

†† I know how it should be.You hear the pride in that thinking.

An anxious person may not appear to be proud.

†† He may be trembling with fear and unable to get out of bed.

†† But underlying that worry is a pride that says:I know whatís best for my life.

 

So Peter says to these suffering ChristiansóBe humble.

†† Submit your hearts to God who has permitted you to undergo this trial.

†† True humility destroys anxiety.

Enables you to believe and say:This is exactly where God wants me.

 

So how do you become humble?

Well, Peter says, you donít learn it in private.You donít learn it in your quiet time.

†† You learn it by participating in the life of your church.

You learn humility before God with real people in your church.

†† Real personalities, conflicts, problems, ups and downs.

 

This is a theme that runs right through Peterís letter from first to lastó

†† the theme of the church.Over and over Peter makes it clear that these lessons

†† about suffering are not for us to learn alone, but to be learned corporately.

Thatís a very hard concept for us to grasp as individualistic Americans.

†† That I need the church.That I cannot become a humble Christian without church.

But in the Bible, the truly humble spirit is measured primarily by humility before

†† other human beings.If we canít be humble before the people we can see,

†† how can we be humble before the Great God who we cannot see?

 

Peter makes three points in these verses.

In order to be refined in suffering, the church must have . . .

†† 1.Humble leaders2.Humble members3.Humble sufferers

MP#1Humble leaders

ďTo the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christís sufferings and one who will also share in the glory to be revealed:Be shepherds of Godís flock, serving as overseers.Ē

 

Peter starts by addressing elders.This passage has a very Presbyterian ring to it.

†† Elders plural.Not just one man running the church but a board of elders, Session.

†† An appeal as a fellow elder.Peter was an Apostle.He could have pulled rank.

But in a very Presbyterian way he says:Iím just one fellow elder among you.

†† We have a name for that.We call it the parity of elders.

 

Peter says:Look, fellow elders.If the church is going to learn humility

†† that leads to sanctification in suffering, it starts with you men.

It starts with the way you leadóserving, serving, being an example.

†† There are many positions of leadership in the church that arenít church office.

†† If you are teaching childrenís Sunday school, you are leading those children.

Certainly there are things to learn in Peterís words for every place of leadership.

†† You can even apply these things to leadership in home, school, work.

 

But Iím not going to go that direction.I donít think thatís right.

These are very tough, convicting words directed at me because Iím a teaching elder.

†† And at all you men in this congregation who are ruling elders.

And all you men who are deacons.You also serve in an ordained office.

 

Peter says three things to elders.

You are to shepherd the flock not because you must, but because you are willing.

This sounds like what the Bible says about giving your tithes and offerings.

†† Donít give reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

As a Christian you are to give your money from the heartó

†† and as an elder, you are to lead from the heart, not because you must.

 

Remember the context of the letter.A church facing persecution.

In times of persecution, leading church is not just more costly, itís harder.

†† Because, contrary to our romantic idea of persecuted Christians, it often brings

†† out the worst.There are many who cave in and pull away.Have to be pursued.

There is a tendency of those who stay to become more critical and judgmental.

†† Elders have to deal with those things.A good shepherd does it willingly.

†† He doesnít get fed up with the people of God and tired of dealing with them.

That is so convicting.

I canít even count how many times Iíve operated as a pastor out of compulsion

†† rather than a willing, cheerful heart.And how many times Iíve been exasperated

†† and cynical about sin in the body.

 

Peter also says:Not greedy for money, but eager to serve.

Am I greedy for money?I had to ask myself that question this week.

†† I thought, Iím not greedy.I donít badger the church to pay me more.

I have a budget, I tithe.I worry about money too much, but no more than

†† anybody else with a family and bills.And I felt pretty good about myself.

 

But then I focused on the second phraseónot greedy for money, but eager to serve.

†† And all my carefully constructed justifications came crashing down.

Because I realized that there are many ways I use the church to serve me.

†† It doesnít have to be money.

†† I use it to get the approval I crave.The strokes.

Where do I spend most of my time and efforts.

†† Usually on things I know you all will see.

When somebody lowly or something hidden needs my service,

†† Iím much more inclined to ignore it, because it wonít get me what I want.

 

Third, Peter says:Not lording it over people entrusted to you, but setting example.

†† Donít lead by forcing people.Donít lead by being domineering.

Instead commend the Christian way of life to the flock

†† by the example your character, your faithfulness, your humility, your wisdom,

†† the rightness of your judgments and the truth of your teaching.

This is an impossibly high calling, to be an officer in the church.

†† But by Godís grace, the church is sometimes blessed with humble leaders.

 

When we were up at Covenant College on Friday we were stunned to run into a

†† couple we havenít seen for 15 years.A ruling elder and his wife from Marco

†† Presbyterian Church.The church I was in before I came here.

Let me tell you about this elder.His name is Tony Castillo.Heís from Cuba.

†† Came to America in 1959 to get away from Castro.

†† He had a wife, a baby girl, one dollar, and his faith in Jesus Christ.

He lived the American dream and retired after a successful career with Ford.

 

He loved the church.He loved serving people.

He didnít just work in our church, he would frequently drive to Miami,

†† to help in a Spanish speaking PCA congregation there.

He sponsored a Cuban family, brought them to Marco Island.

†† Got them set up in a dry cleaning business.

†† And many days worked there for free even though his health was poor.

So we ran into him and his wife on Lookout Mountain.They are in their 80s.

†† Why are you here?Had sponsored another Cuban family 10 years ago..

Led them to the Lord.Arranged for daughter to attend Covenant College.

†† Came all the way up to Chattanooga to get her settled.

 

And as we talked, just one story after another about the church spilled out.

They told about the church in Miami.Told about how Tony had recently been

††† at the deathbed of another old Cuban, read Bible verses, led to Christ.

Told sad story about a man we know from our old church who left his wifeó

†† and how Tony pleaded with him two times to no avail.

And told Allison and me that they had prayed for us every day for the past 15years.

 

Then they kissed us, as only Cubans can.Kissed AdrienneóAdrianna!.

†† Kissed ElizaóElisa.

†† Kissed Will.Who is this?They asked.Is this the Alabama boy?

And they commended us to the grace of God.

 

When we were driving away, after leaving Allison asked me how I felt.

†† I said my overwhelming emotions at that moment are humility and gratitude.

My encounter with Tony and Lily Castilloóthis old, faithful elder and his wifeó

†† colored the entire experience of taking my firstborn to college.

 

I want to be an elder like that.Peter says there is a reward.

When the Chief Shepherd appears,

†† you will receive a crown of glory that will never fade away.

Humble leaders.


 

MP#2Humble members

Verse 5.ďYoung men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.Ē

Peter doesnít spend as much time on this point, and Iím not going to either.

†† Iíve nailed myself and the other elders, Iím not going to take it out on you.

 

Just a few points of clarification.

First, why does he address young men?

†† Well, this could also be translated young people.

†† Doesnít necessary refer just to the young men in the congregation.

I think Peter is just making a common observation that it is sometimes

†† younger church members who resist older leadership.

†† Think they are too cautious.Out of touch.

Pete says:Be submissive.Humble yourself.

 

Second, ďThose who are older.ĒItís the word ďpresbuteros.ĒThe word for elder.

†† It can refer to the office of elder or just to older people in the church.

Peter might be saying:Young people, be submissive to older people in the church.

†† But I think heís actually talking about the office of elder.Way ESV translates.

Elders submit to the Chief Shepherd, serve congregation with in humility.

†† Young people, submit to and follow elders.

 

Itís similar to Hebrews 13:17

†† Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must

†† give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be

†† of no advantage to you.

It seems that Peter is saying something similaró

†† young people especially learn humility by submitting to elders.

†† Not limited to young people, of course, but sometimes for them particularly hard.

Enough said on that.

 

The next that that Peter says expands this teaching.

†† ďAll of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because

ĎGod opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.íĒ

Not only is humility learned and practiced as elders serve and as members submit.

†† Humility is also learned as every member is humble toward each other.

This is the way one commentator, Wayne Grudem, explained this verse:

†† ďPeter uses a metaphor of clothing or fastening on garments to speak of the atmosphere of

†† humility towards one another which should characterize relationships among Christians.No

†† one is exempt, for Peter includes church officers and non-officers, young and old, new

†† Christians and mature believers.Ē

No one is exempt.Every encounter, every interaction with every other member

†† of your church is an opportunity for you to grow in humility.

Think about the many ways that can happen in a church body.

 

You see that someone has a needófor a meal, for a phone call or visit.

†† Youíre busy.You have things to do.But you humble yourself and do it.

Someone talks too much about themselves and their problems.

†† You wish they would ask about you.But you humble yourself and listen.

Someone is boring.You humble yourself and ask how they are doing.

Someone is distant and distracted.You donít think they like you very much.

†† You humble yourself and talk to them anyway.

 

Someone criticizes you or confronts you about something.

†† It stings.Youíre irritated.But you humble yourself and consider their words.

†† You accept what is true and forgive and forget what is not.

You pray about challenging someone about a problem in their life.

†† You expect them to respond well but they donít.They get mad at you.

†† You humble yourself, give their response to God.

 

Your child is slighted by another child in the church.

You humble yourself, use it as a chance to teach what it means to love

†† the body of Christ with all its flaws and problems.

You canít understand why someone responds in such an immature wayó

†† you humble yourself, love that person, and believe the Holy Spirit is at work.

 

This is what it means to clothe yourself with humility toward one another.

†† To believe the Holy Spirit is at work.

†† To overlook insults.

†† To speak the truth in love.

To spend time with people and talk to people that you wouldnít normally choose

†† to hang out with but you do because they are members of your church.

 

And as you do, something remarkable happens in your spirit.

†† That brings us to the third point.

 

 

 


 

MP#3Humble sufferers

Peter makes an amazing jump in verse 6.Heís been talking about how we

†† treat each other in the church.Submission and humility.

Then suddenly he changes to God.

†† ďHumble yourselves, therefore under Godís mighty hand that he may lift you up in due time.

†† Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.Ē

 

Iíve said it already, but Iím going to say it againó

†† because this is the point Peter is making, this connection.

Anxiety is form of pride.Itís your imagination running wild without God.

†† Itís the thought that God is not doing it right.

†† That I know how my life should be and this isnít it.

 

The only way to cut the root of anxiety is to be able to say and believeó

†† God is God.God is right.God is good.He has me where he wants me.

†† This is exactly where I need to be in this little while of suffering.

Thatís humility.

 

You donít learn to humble yourself before God in solitude.

†† You learn it in the churchóserving humbly if you are an officer,

†† following submissively as a member,

†† clothing yourself with humility toward each other.

And as you learn humility,

†† wonderful truths about suffering pressed home in your spirit.

 

First, You are suffering under Godís mighty hand.

†† You are not suffering bad luck.You are not cursed.

†† You are not adrift.This is not random.It is the mighty hand of God.

That terrifies some people.It infuriates others.

†† But for believers who have learned humility, it is a profound comfort.

 

How often in this letter have we seen suffering depicted as a weight.

†† Thatís the way most people describe suffering.Heaviness.A load.

†† If youíve every suffered, you know it feels like a weight on your shoulders.

Humility teaches that this weight you feel is not some alien forceó

†† itís the mighty hand of your heavenly Father.

Perhaps for discipline.Perhaps for testing.

†† Perhaps for some mysterious purpose that youíll never know till I get to heaven.

†† But itís his hand.He is the one with whom you have to deal.

Second, God will lift you up at the proper time.

†† All suffering has an end.This promise is repeated over and over.

†† Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

After the valley of the shadow of death comes the table prepared,

†† the anointed head and the overflowing cup.

 

God has appointed times and seasons.

†† After a little while he will lead you out into a spacious, sun shiny place.

Lord, you may ask, What about now?Now would be good.

†† You can tell him what you want.Nothing wrong with that.

†† But humility enables you to wait for his proper time.

 

Third, in the meantime, in the waiting time,

†† God wants you to cast your cares on him because he cares for you.

What does the humble sufferer look like?

†† Do you walk around stooped over?

†† Hunching your shoulders.Talking bad about yourself.

NoóPeter says that you cast your anxieties on him.

†† Do you know what that means?

†† Have you ever heaved something heavy on someone else?

 

I was talking to a man recently who told me that when he and his wife were

†† first married, they made a solemn promise with each other.

They swore that if ever either one of them was awake in the night,

†† worrying about something at 2:00 in the morning, unable to sleep.

That the worrier would wake up the other spouse,

†† no matter how deeply he or she was sleeping and tell what was troubling.

 

Man who told me this had been married 40 years.

†† He said that many times over the years he and his wife had kept that promise.

He said it is not hard being the one awakened.

†† Itís hard when you are the one lying there in the dark.

†† Listening to your wifeís deep breathing, telling yourself that you shouldnít

†† bother her, that you are a man, that you should be able to handle this.

But then remembering the promise.Fighting back the pride, shaking her.

†† Baby, wake up.I canít sleep.Iím worried.

He said that every time through the years when he had kept the promise

†† the sensation was like he had heaved a heavy anchor off the side of a boat.

 

Cast all your anxieties on the Lord, because he cares for you.

†† Heave them on to him.And hereís a practical application.

Sometimes casting your cares on the Lord means casting them on

†† a trustworthy Christian friend.

Can I talk to you.Will you listen and pray for me.

†† Itís hard for you to ask, but it honors them.

Yes, they say.I would be glad to.And you heave away.

†† This is a good church for that.

†† There are lots of people in Christ Covenant who would be glad to listen.

††

Doing that, not trying to handle it all yourself, is an act of practical humility.

†† Remember:God gives grace to the humble.

True humility does not discourage or depress, it opens the door to the love

†† of Christ and the full experience of that love.

 

And that experience makes a man or a woman the most cheerful and useful

†† friend to others.We love them, however unlovely they may be from time to time,

†† because when we were still more unlovely, God loved us and Christ gave

†† himself for us.