We’ve been learning about the distinction we have in following Christ and what an honor it is to suffer for Him. Brothers and Sisters, we do not suffer alone. We have one another. God established the church, the body of Christ in a model of His relationship with us. He works and speaks through us, His chosen and holy people to encourage, exhort, and edify one another. We do so in a model of Jesus relationship with us as we strive to always move forward in our transformation toward His image. One of the most important aspects of Jesus’ character and the most difficult to live is humility. But love is communicated most perfectly in humility. Verses 1-4 read,
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. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
The Lord put our pastors, deacons, and elders in place. He honored them by making them servants to His people as Jesus lived as a servant to us. Their job is difficult, their responsibility is immense. They will be judged with greater strictness than the majority (James 3:1). The longer we are walking in Christ, the more we ought to look act like Him. As we mature, we should be becoming teachers, mentors, and servants in the Kingdom (Hebrews 5:12). People in the position of elder must walk in humility and act in love. They are a living example of Jesus Christ to us. So we need to make sure we are showing them the respect they deserve. We need to model the humility of Christ by submitting to our pastors and other elders, by giving them the reverence they deserve as God’s anointed servants. Verse 5 reads,
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.”
Pride is a sneaky thing and it is in opposition to God. Atheism is not the opposite of Christianity; I-theism is. It is the exaltation of the self, the serving of one’s self, the living to please one’s self that opposes the Lord and serves Satan. But pride sneaks in. When we judge the elder or one another for imperfections, pride is showing its ugly head. When we look at the good works we’ve done for Christ and give ourselves a pat on the back, we open the door to pride. When we plan a mission to bring the lost to the Lord yet control every aspect because only we can do it right, pride walks in that door. When we accept the glory that belongs to God for the works being done, pride takes over, quenches the Holy Spirit and makes us ineffectual at best and makes people follow us straight to Hell at worst. Pride is at the core of sin. Lucifer fell because of His pride (Ezekiel 28:17). Adam and Eve sinned because of pride (Genesis 3:6). Judas betrayed Christ because of pride (Luke 22:3). Peter denied Christ because of pride (Luke 22:54-62). Peter was reconciled with Christ because Jesus loved him enough to forgive him and offer him the honor of caring for His church (John 21:15-19). Jesus exemplified humility for Peter and Peter was able to follow that example and submit to Jesus. 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.
It is prideful to worry, to be anxious, and think that we have to take care of our problems on our own. All we have to do is humble ourselves before God and trust Him. He promised if we concerned ourselves with His kingdom, He would take care of all the details. In Matthew 6:33-34 Jesus said,
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Satan works through pride. He makes the lost think they do not need God and he makes Christians think they should depend on themselves rather than God for their transformations, good works, and provision. So be careful of pride. Verses 8-11 read,
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. 10 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.
You know, the devil your enemy is not all that. He’s puffed up with pride. He tries to look beautiful for the world and terrifying to Christians. But he isn’t. He attacks in fear. Do you know that you don’t have to fight with him or engage him at all? All you have to do is resist, to say, “Nope, not gonna give in” and he takes off like a coward. To fight the enemy is to say you don’t trust that God will fight for you. It says you do not believe Jesus already overcame Satan, sin and death. Submit to God and trust Him to be God. James 4:6-10 reads,
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Pride tells us that we can earn favor from God. Pride makes us trust the Law instead of the Lord. Peter closes this letter in verses 12-14
By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with the kiss of love.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Believer, I encourage you today stand firm in the true grace of God, to ask God to reveal hidden pride in you, to look at your relationships and see if you are submitting to one another, and to submit yourself to God. You do not have to be afraid to submit to God, He loves you so very deeply.