Years ago I remember hearing a Fourth of July weekend message called, “Our Declaration of Dependence.” It was at a small church in a small town in Nebraska, and when I saw the sermon title in the bulletin, I thought it was a typo, a Microsoft Word mistake. It was not. When I think back on that message now, I understand what the preacher was talking about. I don’t remember what passage he taught, but the theme of his sermon, our need to humbly trust in the Lord for everything, is certainly what today’s verses from 1 Peter teach us.
Peter has just challenged believers in 1 Peter 5:5 to humble themselves under the leadership of their pastors and to show humility before God and others. In verse 6 he presses the need for humility again. If we want to be of use to God, to be great in His eyes, we must get low before Him. For Christians, the way up is down. We want to humble ourselves now rather than be humbled by God’s “mighty hand” of discipline later. I’m sure many of you would prefer to do what your parents want first instead of getting in trouble and being punished and then still having to do what they tell you to do. Like our parents (and probably more so!), God is patient and long suffering with us, not giving us the treatment that we deserve. As verse 7 tells us, God really “cares for us,” which means that He loves us and His plans towards us are for our good. But those plans for our good include making us humble like His Son Jesus, making us decrease so that He can increase in our lives. If we continue in proud rebellion and selfish independence and keep boasting of our own greatness every day, we cannot be surprised if God sends hard consequences against us.
The better way is to stop thinking about ourselves and instead put our trust in the Lord. Take your cares and worries, the stuff that is keeping you up at night and causing you to be anxious and afraid, and lay them down at the feet of Jesus. We must kill fear and replace it with faith. Every Christian must choose to fight this fight against pride and self every day. But the good news is that God is for us and not against us. He has given us the Bible and His Holy Spirit and the fellowship of other Christians to help us become humble and learn to trust in Him. May His Word, Spirit, and people soften our hearts again today.
The Text (1 Peter 5:6-7)
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Background and Observations
• Peter’s reference to the “mighty hand of God” in verse 6 is probably talking about the suffering that these Christian readers are facing and will be facing in the future. Everyone suffers in this life, but not everyone is made humble by that suffering. The challenge for Christians is to not become bitter, but to let the difficulties of life send us closer to the feet of Jesus.
• Verses 6 and 7 are logically connected. When we humble ourselves before God, it should change the desires of our hearts and what we care about it. The “cares” that we cast before the Lord in prayer should become more and more focused on His kingdom and the true needs of His people and less and less on selfish and sinful wants that hurt our walks with Christ.
Questions to Think About
1. It has been said that pride is like bad breath; everyone knows that you have it but you. Ask some friends or family members if they see any pride in your life. You might be surprised (for good or bad) at what they say! Either way, this can be a humbling experience for you.
2. What are your greatest cares and worries right now? Take a couple minutes and list them on a piece of paper. Then lay the list down in front of you as you pray. This concrete exercise may help you to visualize casting your cares before the Lord who cares for you.