Day 100: April 10, 2014

Today's Reading(s)

1 Peter 5:5-7
5 In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. 6 And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.



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The Importance of Humility in Community
by Steve Layton, Discipleship Minister, Brentwood Campus

Be humble in all your relationships, for God opposes the proud but helps the humble. Cast your anxieties on God, for he cares for you.

As we examine our passage today we must note that young men should not be restricted to men, but can refer to a mixed group of men and women. Specifically, it identifies all those in the church who are not pastors and who are likely younger in the faith, in Christian maturity, and in experience.

Just as pastors have a primary responsibility to shepherd the members of the flock, the members of the flock have a primary responsibility: “submission” to their pastors (elders) who have been given the responsibility of leadership. Be submissive is a command, an imperative, a directive which should be obeyed. Such a command is not to be debated. The verb means “to defer to the authority of.” It indicates a spirit of cooperation as opposed to dissatisfaction with the leadership.

The combination of godly leadership and submissive followership should flow into an attitude of humble respect for one another throughout the church body. Clothe yourselves with humility suggests that humility should be a part of the believer’s wardrobe. “To clothe” refers to a slave or servant putting on an apron or towel to serve someone else. This image was forever ingrained in Peter’s mind. He had firsthand knowledge of this kind of humility. The same night on which Peter denied Christ, Jesus took a towel and washed the feet of the disciples (see John 13).

True humility does not involve an attitude of self-depreciation. As Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self.” Humility is to be aware of personal strengths and to be thankful to God for them. Humility is to be aware of personal weaknesses and to be dependent upon God to help you improve in those areas. Beyond this, humility describes an attitude which puts others first, which thinks of the desires, needs, and ideas of others as more worthy of attention than your own.

To emphasize this point, Peter completes verse 5 with a quotation from Proverbs 3:34. Instead of quoting the Hebrew text, Peter followed the common practice of the early church and quoted the Septuagint, the earliest Greek translation of the New Testament: God stands against pride, while extending grace to the humble.

Why does God act this way? Because proud people invariably trust only in themselves—not God. Furthermore, the proud see themselves only with strengths, not weaknesses. They consider themselves the standard for others to follow. They display an attitude of arrogant superiority and generally exude a self-centered and self-sufficient odor.

People who dance with pride trust only in themselves, in their own opinions, in their own ideas. Inevitably, they seek attention and glory for themselves. God stands opposed to this attitude. God applauds the model that resists or fights off the arrogance of Satan through the attitude of humility. Is it possible that Peter remembered his own self-glorifying behavior and Jesus’ words of rebuke to him? (See Matt. 16:23.)

In humbly following the Lord and submitting to him, we are bowing to his mighty hand or power. Those who obey God in this manner find the promise that God may lift you up in due time. Trusting God ultimately leads to exaltation by him in “due time.” This description means either the time of Christ’s second coming or a time near at hand. God will bring persecution to an end. This truth is expressed by Grudem:

In the time that God deems best—whether in this life or in the life to come, He may lift you up from your humble conditions and exalt you in the way that seems best to Him—perhaps only in terms of increased spiritual blessings and deeper fellowship with Himself, perhaps in terms of responsibility, reward or honor which will be seen by others as well (Grudem, 195).

As we trust God and his mighty power, we follow a God who cares deeply for us. Peter may have had in mind the words of Jesus (Matt. 6:25–34). If so, he borrowed them and placed them in the context and crucible of suffering and persecution.

Cast means “to throw something upon someone or something else.” This word suggests a deliberate decision of trust. We are to trust God with our anxiety, the things we worry about. The term (merimnan) means “to be drawn in different directions, to be divided or distracted.” Whatever we are anxious about tends to distract us from trusting God. It tends to pull us in different directions so that we do not depend on him.

Peter’s 1st-century readers, like their 20th-century cousins, failed to remember this truth even in the midst of anguish and pain: God cares for you. The form in which the verb appears (present active indicative with the dative) indicates that God’s care and concern for believers is constant, ongoing, and unending. God is not indifferent to the suffering of his followers, but desires our active, humble trust in him, especially during difficult days.[1]

First Peter 5:5 and James 4:6 show us the door to the realm of grace. God generously gives grace to the humble and resists the proud. These verses, and others like them, imply that while we cannot earn grace, but we can spurn grace. While grace is always unmerited, it is not always uninvited because humility attracts God’s grace. The key for entering God’s community of grace is humility.

This is not pretend humility of pseudo-spiritual relationships where I act like I am less than I really am. Neither is this the humility that causes me to imagine in my own mind that I am humble, when everyone around me knows differently.

Biblical humility is noticeable. You can tell when someone has humility and we he or she does not. Humility is simply trusting God and others with me.  Humility is not how you enter the community of grace; it is how you live in it every day.

Think about the definition of humility again: Humility is trusting God and others with me. This is perhaps the most basic of all spiritual disciplines. We gained initial entry in the environment of grace by trusting God. Now, we live our lives in God by trusting Him.

When you trust God and others, you attract God’s grace, which is where His divine power resides. It is the power of HIS grace (Romans 5:20; 11:6). Therefore, if you ever hope to routinely nurture a community of grace in which you can live, work and play, you must learn to trust others with yourself.

Communities of grace open the door to gaining permission to share truth among fellow believers. They are about both giving and receiving love. The formation of a community of grace always starts with trusting others, and the first among others is always God.[2]

How shall we describe the way a grace-filled community works, especially if it is a world away from where most of us live?

  1. Trusting God and others with me (humility) is the starting point for my sanctification, just as it is the starting block for my justification.
  2. When my failures become particularly acute, I get the opportunity be loved in real time by others who actually treat me accurately—as a righteous saint who sins.
  3. Trusting others, according to 1 Peter 5 attracts God’s grace.
  4. Claim the truth that “I am in community being formed into the image of Jesus”.[3]

[1] Walls, D., & Anders, M. (1999). I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude (Vol. 11, pp. 90–93). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Alan Andrews, Bill Thrall and Bruce McNichol, The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2010), 67-70. 

[3] Alan Andrews, Bill Thrall and Bruce McNichol, The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2010), 76-78.  

Praxis

  1. Peter instructs us in today’s passage that the “younger men” are to be subject to your elders (pastors). A good place to begin in reflection on this passage is to consider your support of and relationship with our elders (Trustees) and Pastors. Pastors and elders are tasked with exercising oversight of the church according to the will of God. This is a huge calling. Our Pastors and elders need our encouragement and support. Take time today to pray for them as well as send words of encouragement through email, cards or social media.
    1. A good way to multiport this practice is to talk to your children about their leaders at church.
    2. A way to make the practice practical is to help them to make cards with words of encouragement for these leaders.
  2. What are you worried about? Can you trust God and others with this burden?  If so, lay it at the cross and leave it there. Don’t pick it up and walk in faith claiming the promises of God. Remember that He cares for you.
  3. Reflect on the following…
    1. Is my community of grace a place of trust?
    2. Am I “real” (authentic) in my community of grace?
    3. Do I protect the weaknesses of others in my community of grace?

Do I exhibit pride or humility in my community of grace?


About JourneyOn Today

Today's devotional series accompanies the Spiritual Practices Foundations Curriculum which deals with 24 different spiritual disciplines. We will break for an Advent series in December and continue the second half of Spiritual Practices during the first quarter of 2015.