Series: Maintaining this hope
Casting our care is an expression of Humility
This week we’re looking to wrap up Peter’s first letter with his final statement of “in the same way”, which has to do with how we all live together in submission and humility out of conscience towards God.
This whole letter has been about the Christian life and how we are to live it. It will help us if we remember this IS a letter.
I know we have taken weeks to go through it, but it was truly just a letter of no more than 5 to 7 pages in length.
Even so, it is structured like a book in that it is bookended with flip-sides of the same coin. Chapter 1 and chapter 5 largely cover the same concerns only from different angles.
In chapter one Peter begins by talking about our privileged position in Christ and how we are destined to bear His likeness, through trust forged in our hearts. This trust is developed through progressively coming to know God and from having both our hearts and our reliance upon Him tested and brought to maturity through sufferings and trials.
He ends the first chapter by encouraging them to get their minds ready for the action – because this process is only going to escalate as we come to know Christ more. So we need to learn to value what is truly valuable and treat with increasingly less concern the overly natural concerns of this life.
He says, “And if you address as Father the One Who impartially judges according to each one’s work, live out the time of your temporary residence here in reverence.”
Then in chapters 2-3 Peter talks about enduring suffering out of conscience towards God beginning with our Lord as our first and primary example and then referring back to that example through repeated use of the phrase “in the same way”.
Peter addresses all major aspects of our lives encouraging holiness, godliness and proper submission to authority even in the middle of persecution “in the same way” as Christ Jesus did.
In chapter 4 Peter presses the importance of realizing that we are stewards of God’s favor – His grace and that a true heart, that is soberly aware of what this life is all about will spend the rest of there life pursuing the will of God – again, reminding us that so long as we are still on earth we will endure persecution and that judgment is the next phase of God’s work on earth and this judgment begins with us!
With all that having been covered he ends his letter, much like he started it only with more sobering terms. Talking about the necessity for humility, submission to authority and trust towards God in the midst of opposition.
He begins this last chapter addressing the elders and the importance of their work which helps facilitate this goal in God’s people – which is where we left off last week.
What we are about to see is how Peter encourages humility and honor from God’s people – beginning with honoring their elders and then each other making an appeal to having a sober mind – meaning one which sees and considers things clearly. Not allowing the thoughts, opinions or pressures of the world to cloud our thinking.
He tells them that there is NO earthly concern which should derail you from these priorities.
- Yes, we are in a hostile world.
- Yes we have an enemy.
- Yes we will be tried and pushed
- and yes, we are continually in a position of being judged so as to be separated from the world and prepared for God.
HOWEVER – there is NOTHING that can harm you if in humility you
- submit to God
- Submit to His personal and delegated authority
- and trust you Creator.
You are NOT to live as if you have a care, because He cares for you!
If you surrender yourselves in trust to this, He will exalt you into Christ’s likeness in due time (after you have suffered a little while).
NOW with that overview of this letter in our minds, let’s work through Peter’s final thoughts.
Remember he JUST encouraged the Elders to do their work and to do it the right way before God.
Then he says…
“(5) In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Though this would stand true regardless. The word “younger” here is specifically referring to spiritual maturity and the word elder is still in reference to the Pastors he just got done speaking to and about.
Those who are in spiritual leadership are those who are more mature and have developed spiritually as well as have a calling. Such spiritual growth takes time, so in many cases those who are elders will often be older than much of the congregation, though this is not always true.
You can have a man in his 30’s or 40’s who is spiritually mature and called to this position of leadership among people who have been born again longer and are less developed spiritually.
Furthermore, you will always have cases where someone does not come to Christ until they are elderly themselves and so, while they are naturally old, they are still spiritually young.
It should also be noted that nothing requires that an elder be more spiritually mature than all those under their care, because even though there are natural requirements to this position it is also a calling. Like Apostles or prophets, Elders are people given as a gift to the body for their growth and maturity as is mentioned in Ephesians 4. As such there is a delegated authority that transcends even natural age or even experience and Peter is urging the sheep to accept and submit to the authority of their leaders.
He completes his thought by making reference back to Proverbs 3:34, which says,
“The arrogantly boastful God will mock, but He shows regard and favor to the humble.”
This encouragement towards humility remains a focus until the end of the letter.
- As a cautionary statement – it means to NOT be arrogant.
- As an encouragement it means – to not think higher of oneself than is fitting.
To realize that we are all creatures of equal standing before our Creator and therefore no one – regardless of rank, calling or natural talents have any real advantage above any other before God – the Giver of all gifts.
REMEMBER – we were encouraged just a couple of pages back in this letter to live the rest of our lives for the will of God. So therefore ALL Peter says here is in the light of hearts who concern themselves MORE with God’s way of thinking and doing than their own. So we are to regard one another through the eyes of the Creator. As such – we are all on embarrassingly even and level ground with none having any true advantage over another.
As such, it should be natural for us to consider each other equals in regard to creation but serve one another as honoring the fact that others are special creations of God and therefore objects of His love.
Remember also that Peter has been encouraging us to divorce ourselves from concerns of this life – ESPECIALLY no longer adopting as our own the thoughts, priorities and concerns of those who do not know God.
This world is always in a competitive stance. Everyone is in competition with the other. Everyone is seeking the “high ground”, because self importance and personal value is the proverbial “gold ring” they reach for in the circle (or merry-go-round) of life.
- Our goal is Christ in us
- Our focus in upon God AND
- Our trust is in Him (not our performance) to accomplish this end in us.
As such Peter says…
“(6) And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under His mighty hand (7) by casting all your cares on Him because He cares for you.”
The NET translation rearranged the words in this verse so that we could more naturally see the connection being made between humility and casting cares.
What is indirectly being said here is if you carry your own cares you are being arrogant and are NOT being subject to the authority of God in your life. In this case, that authority is that He is THE ONE Who cares for you.
Like so many of the things we’ve learned about these past few years of things which “belong to God” – our care is among them! HE IS OUR SHEPHERD!
The words “for He careth for you“ can be translated literally, “for it is a care to Him concerning you,” or “for you are His concern“. Meaning – you are NOT your concern – you are no longer your own lord!
Anxiety and worry are proofs of not knowing this nor trusting this!!!
You may remember my teaching you on Philippians 4 several years ago. It is SUCH a pivotal set of verses which captures SO MUCH of our Christian existence in just a few words and is COMPLETELY in step with Peter’s encouragement here.
Paul said in Phil. 4:4-9,
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! (5) Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near!
(6) Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. (7) And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
(8) Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, take all of these thoughts together and come to the conclusion that you will occupy yourself with thoughts of these things.
(9) And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.”
The WHOLE idea here is a heart focused upon the true worship of the God Who cares for you.
Wuest had these comments on this passage…
“The preposition “unto” in the Greek text suggests the translation, “in the presence of God,” and is a delicate and suggestive way of hinting that God’s presence is always there, that it is the atmosphere surrounding the Christian. Anxious care is out of place in a heavenly Father’s presence. Requests are always in place with Him. The words “shall keep,” are from a military word, “shall mount guard.” God’s peace, like a sentinel, mounts guard and patrols before the heart’s door, keeping worry out.”
The words DON’T WORRY are quite emphatic! It is anything but a request. It is actually a commandment required of Christians. The rest of the verse explains why.
The words “but in everything, through prayer…” carry with them an implication which is much more discernible in the Greek and is not translated in virtually any way into the English. It implies that God is immediately present. He is, if you will, the atmosphere in which the believer lives, and it is just inappropriate to worry or be anxious in His presence. In fact, it is an action which is actually an affront to the king!
The notion is much like the danger of bringing anything into the presence of a king which they might find offensive. Like when Nehemiah served wine to King Artaxerxes with a sad heart. When the king asked him about it, Nehemiah was overwhelmed with fear. This is the trepidation we should have against worry. In a satirical way, one could say, “If you’re going to worry about anything worry about worrying – because THAT is highly offensive to our God and king!”
The scriptures tell us that there is MUCH about God we do not know – including the proper way to pray.
Romans 8 tells us “we do not know how to pray as we ought” the correct idea behind the word “ought” is this, “the Spirit also helps us in our weakness; for we do not know what prayers to offer nor in what way to offer them so that they are offered in a manner worthy of God, but the Spirit Himself pleads for us in yearnings which we have no words for”
We DO know that the Bible tells us that when we come into God’s presence it should be with singing and into His courts with praise – being THANKFUL unto Him and blessing His name For His IS GOOD…His love is eternal and His faithfulness endures throughout all generations.
But do you remember this was written when the presence of God was locked up in the temple – behind the veil?
Who is willing to remember that this is no longer so – but He has taken up His residence within us!
So, when we worry… we do so as being CONTINUALLY in His presence. We are bringing something into God’s presence which does not belong there and which is in fact an affront to Him!
If you didn’t get anything else out of this morning – especially this group – GET THIS!!!
MUCH of what I hear you all depressed or down about regards worries, concerns and anxieties of this life.
If you take your Christian life – lived before God seriously at all… hear me tell you – that all such anxiety, concern and worry are violent against God and hostile to your trust.
You need to take this seriously!
As much as I love you all and as much as I acknowledge that I have in fact seen growth in you all – I am telling you this is something which demands your attention.
What have we learned in this letter? THE END OF ALL THINGS IS NEAR – JUDGMENT IS ALREADY BEGINNING IN GOD’S HOUSE. So we can afford to be cavalier NO LONGER! This is something which DEMANDS your attention.
To carry any concern at all is to actively pour your efforts into something which hinder’s Christ being formed in you!
Phil. 4 is not saying “Don’t worry” as to pacify us, but DON’T WORRY as to correct us!
Worry is irreverent!
- At best it is to forget that God is good
- …at worst it is to not trust that it is true
In either case it is sin!
God’s presence is the atmosphere of the believer!
Do Not worry for you are always within the gaze of the caring God and are enveloped in His presence, so turn to Him in faith, and in an act of devotion and worship make requests to Him – He’s right there! …and as you surrender these “would be worries” over into His hands, it will be exchanged for His peace which will overwhelm your mind and guard it against everything that is not in conformity to Jesus.
Translation: “Stop perpetually worrying about even one thing, but in everything, by prayer whose essence is that of worship and devotion, and by supplication which is a cry for your personal needs, let your requests with thanksgiving for the things asked for be made known in the presence of God, and the peace of God which surpasses all power of comprehension, shall mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
It is much as Jesus described it in Matt. 6:25 & 33,
“(25) For this reason I charge you not to be over-anxious about your lives, inquiring what you are to eat or what you are to drink, nor yet about your bodies, inquiring what clothes you are to put on. … (33) But make His Kingdom and righteousness your chief aim, and then these things shall all be given you in addition. ”
This is what it is to have a SOBER mind as Peter says as we continue in 1 Peter 5…
“(8) Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.
(9) Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering.”
Notice Peter says this RIGHT AFTER addressing worries, caresm concerns and anxieties.
These are baits of satan, intended for entrapment!
Notice again how we are to respond to the advances of this one who is like a prowling lion. Stay alert. Don’t be caught off guard. Do not get caught up in the affairs and concerns of this present age – but rather RESIST HIM STRONG IN YOUR TRUST!
The Spirit did not compare satan to a devouring lion with no cause. While we are no longer afraid of him, we need to not treat his schemes as trivial. Make no mistake – his goal is to devour you!
Remember the words of Paul, “I have perceived the existence of a law, that evil is present with me as the one who desires to do good”
“For though I delight in the law of God in my inner being. (23) I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. (24) Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (25) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” ~ Rom 7:22-25a
So Peter concludes his encouragements with these words…
“(10) And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace Who called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
(11) To Him belongs the power forever. Amen.”
Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
You are His special and pet project. He knows you, loves you and you are the focus of his care and concern! He wants what is best for you – what you designed for and that is to be a sharing in His likeness and glory forever and it is in His power ALONE to accomplish it!
Anxiety is a self-contradiction to true humility.
Unbelief is, in a sense, an exalting of self against God in that one is depending upon self and failing to trust God.
Why worry therefore, if we are His concern. He is more concerned about our welfare than we could possibly be.
Furthermore, since the humbling process has been allowed to come to us in the permissive will of God through suffering, and He is using it to accomplish His purpose in our lives, He has it under His control and us in His care.
In it all He is concerned about us, therefore, again, why worry?
Which is conformed by the very next words
“To him belongs the power forever. Amen.”
“Through Silvanus, whom I know to be a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, in order to encourage you and testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it!
(13) The church in Babylon, chosen together with you, greets you, and so does Mark, my son. (14) Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”