Believer, we are exiles in this world, but we have each other. We are family. We are the Body. We have one Lord and one Spirit. We have a responsibility to one another, to serve, to build each other up, to walk with and encourage one another. We are all at different junctures of maturity. Those who are more mature have a responsibility to care for the less mature. We minister to each other. But the pastor has an immense duty to care for all of us in his congregation. So we the congregants have an obligation to him as well. Verses 1-3 give instructions to the pastor.
“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
Jesus is coming back and when He does our transformation will be complete. There will be no more flesh to wrestle the Spirit. We will all be completely and perfectly matured. But until then we have to live in the fallen world and help one another along. We’ve got to remember that not everyone is in the same place we are. We’ve got to respect our brothers and sisters whether less or more mature. Verses 4-5 read,
“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, 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.”
Even the mature Christian must be a humble example to the others in the church. Jesus led by example. The pastor leads by example and so do we. There is always another paying attention, learning from us. And it should be possible because we are all supposed to imitate Christ and bear the Fruit of the Spirit.
It is okay to be humble. It is okay to acquiesce to others. It is not only okay, it’s how we glorify Christ. Humility is one of the traits that most sets us apart from the world. Pride is such a dangerous beast, but love expressed as humility defeats it. Humility allows us to serve others and to exalt Christ. Don’t despair though, when Jesus comes back we will be raised up. The entire world will see that Jesus is Christ and every knee will bow. Believers will be raised up to be with Him and after the Day of Judgment we’ll be living in New Jerusalem for eternity. God promises to exalt us. So it really behooves us to be humble. Verses 6-7 read,
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
In humility we don’t have to be strong or independent. We rely on God. We can support our brothers and sisters because we’re happy for them in the good, we fight with them against the evil, and we mourn with them through sadness. We are united. We don’t have to covet or envy. And that is really important when we’re exiles in the world. We have each other and we have God, our Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The devil is out there. He hates us. He wants to destroy us. We have got to remain aware of him and band together. Verses 8-9 say,
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
We are not alone against the devil, the suffering he inflicts, or the temptations we face. We have one another. And we have the hope of Christ. Verses 10-11 read,
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
The lost thinks the world is theirs. The devil thinks it belongs to him. We know it belongs to God. We know one day Jesus will return and we will be changed in an instant. Let that knowledge and hope encourage you through the suffering, the temptations, and all the rest. Be a member of the body. Don’t forget your brothers and sisters.