Are You Humble Enough to be Carefree? (1 Pet 5:6-7)

Sunday, May 29th, 2011
Sermon Series: 1 Peter

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Are You Humble Enough to Live Carefree?

Living humble as life gets difficult–1 Peter 5:6-7

People respond differently to life, and people respond differently to pressure.  There is the passive acceptance kind of guy, like the man who was married for fifty years and was asked by his son why he and mom never seemed to argue.  He said, “Oh we battled, but it never amounted to much.  After a while, one of us always realized that I was wrong . . . passive acceptance.

Did you know that 47% of high school students can’t imagine anything worth dying for?  Which means–they can’t imagine anything worth living for.  Which is why, the number one response of many high school students to any issue of significance is to say, “Whatever.”  Where do they learn that from? From their parents–ask them, “How are you parents?”  “Fine.”  “What are they doing?”  “Nothing.”  Passive acceptance . . . whatever.

Then there is the blame game response to life and trials—it’s always someone else’s fault.  A long time ago I was speaking, and the sound system broke down, and the guy said to me, “Satan is trying to stop God from working here.”  And I said, “No, I think you brought bad sound equipment.”  Own it, brother–stop blaming other people for your mistakes.

There are some, when things go wrong, who may not say it, but they are thinking, “A crisis of this magnitude must have someone to blame.”  Then there are others who, when life heats up, they fret, worry, panic and experience fear–they choke.  The English term worry comes from an old German word meaning to strangle, or choke.  That is exactly what worry does–worry is an emotional strangulation.  And those who respond with fear are contagious–they share their struggle, spread it to their children, their spouse and their friends.  They want others as afraid as they are to confirm their fear, and legitimize it.  Entire groups form over fear.

But your Lord, who died for your sin on the cross, does not want you to respond to life with passive acceptance, blame or fear.  No, God commands you in 1 Peter to respond in a totally different manner.  He explains in 5:6 to 7.  Open your Bibles to 1 Peter 5:6 and follow along in your outline.  Peter commanded in chapters 1 to 2 to remember your salvation, in chapters 2 to 3 to submit to your God-appointed authorities, in chapters 3 to 4 to suffer righteously, and in chapters 4 to 5 to serve one another in the church.

Peter wants his readers to stand firm in grace when they experience trials and persecution and difficulties.  And in verses 6 and 7 he commands those churches and us today to respond in a very unique way.  Look at what he says in verse 6 and 7, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  Peter commands you to respond to trials with humility.

The last time something bad happened, how did you react . . . with a groan? a whine? a complaint? resignation? blame? anger? outburst? argument? fear? panic? attack?  God commands you to respond to pressure with humility.  But do you desire humility?  You will if you desire God Himself.

Humility is not a popular human trait in the modern world.  It’s not touted in the talk shows or celebrated in valedictorian speeches or commended in diversity seminars or listed with core values.  And if you go to the massive self-help section of Barnes and Noble, you won’t find books on humility.  The basic reason for this is not hard to find–humility can only survive in the presence of God.  When God goes, humility goes.  In fact you might say that humility follows God like a shadow.  We can expect to find humility applauded in our society as often as we find God applauded—which means almost never.

The atmosphere we breathe today is hostile to humility.  And this text is utterly foreign to our times, yet utterly necessary.  If what is said here does not take root in our lives, we will not be a Christian church–we will not be Spirit-filled Christians, and we will not be salt and light for a perishing world.  Humility is essential to the Christian life.

Back in verse 1, Peter just modeled humility by calling himself fellow elder, and by describing his greatest failure when he denied Christ three times as he witnessed His sufferings.  Peter commanded elders to model humility by being faithful shepherds of God’s flock.  Peter commanded all the men of the Church to model humility by submitting themselves to their elders.  And Peter commanded the entire Church to clothe themselves with humility in their treatment of one another.

Before he gets to verse 6, God through Peter has commanded the Church three times to live humbly–to saturate the Church with humility, and to be humble in all you do, say, think and feel.  So now in verse 6 God says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

What God says here is this–in light of the entire Church seeking humility, embrace God’s hand in cultivating humility, trusting His perfect timing, dumping all your fears and worry on Him to experience His abundant care in coming alongside of you.  Humility is essential in the life of a Christian.  Humility is a defining mark of a true Christian.

And humility is so important Peter gives you some incentives to encourage you in your pursuit of humility.  God motivates you to grow in humility by . . .

ONE Verse 5b:  “God is opposed to the proud.”

Nothing could be worse than to have an infinitely powerful and holy God opposed to you.  So don’t be proud.

TWO Verse 5b:  “God gives grace to the humble.”

And nothing could be better than to have an infinitely powerful and wise God treat us graciously.  He does that for the humble.  The reason is not that humility is a performance of virtue that earns grace, but that humility is a confession of emptiness that receives grace.  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

THREE Verse 6:  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”

God will use his mighty hand to exalt the humble.

FOUR Verse 7:  “Casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.”

God will use his mighty hand to care for the humble.  Be a humble person, because if you are proud God will be against you in your pride, but if you are humble He will give you grace, exalt you in due time, and care for you along the way so you don’t have to be anxious.

So now how shall humility take root in our minds and hearts and make a powerful difference in the way we live to God’s honor?  Let me try to make it sink deeper into us by walking through these two verses word-by-word as we have done for two years in 1 Peter.

#1  In the midst of the entire Church seeking humility

Don’t miss the first word in verse 6, which is . . . “therefore”.  Peter says, in light of the entire Church practicing humility, in the midst of a community of believers practicing humility, on the basis of everyone together pursuing humility, and because God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble–therefore I command you to allow yourself to be humbled.

Peter is saying, to obey this command you need to be in an environment of humility, you need to be around people who value humility, you need to be around those who take God and His Word seriously.  A church saturated with the true Gospel, who view themselves as the worst sinners they know, who desperately need God’s grace every single day, who know they can’t live the Christian life, glorify God, please God, serve in ministry, sing praise unless they are 100% dependent upon the Lord every single moment.

This world is filled with pride, those without Christ function by pride–arrogance is a way of life, feeling good about yourself is crucial, boasting, bragging, telling others what you’ve done.  Therefore you need to be in the midst of a community that is pursuing humility, and on the basis of the entire church, elders, men and the entire body clothed in humility, allow God to humble you.  The “therefore” speaks of the necessity of the local church in the life of the believer—you need to be around humble people.

You are not going to grow in humility, you will not see your need for humility, you will not desire the God of humility unless you are in the community of the humble–and Peter says that is your church, where elders model humility, men display humility through submission and people wear humility towards each other.  Peter is talking about being integrated, networked, relationally close, serving with, growing with others in a local church–not being a weekly spectator but a regular participant.

Are you close enough to be impacted by others who live humbly?  How about your children and your teens?  In any normal week, 30% of our church family is missing on Sunday.  In children’s classes, it is often 40 to 50% are missing each week.  In student ministry, it is often sports keeping students away.  So many so-called Christian students today are arrogant, so let me ask you, “How much time is your student in church?”  Listen, when the choice is continually made between sports and church or youth–in the competition for time, if church and student ministry lose more to sports or school, you are training your student that the world is more important than God, and you are starving them of the fuel needed to develop humility and the opposite, actually feeding their pride.

Entire groups of students will miss camp–a time for students to sit under the Word in a unique way, be impacted by men and women of God and other parents so they can attend a tournament.  Before your children get into Jr. High, before it is too late, decide now, if you can’t send them away to a Bible-saturated, authorial intent expositional church where the Gospel is taught and Christians seek to live the truth, then don’t send them away.  Keep them here—we’re not perfect, and not the only church, but we want what God wants, we don’t compromise the truth, we pursue humility and seek to depend on Christ and not ourselves.  There is nothing wrong with MSJC and San Marcos as other options–you’re paying for it.

As a church, we will do everything we can to ground them in the Word, help them find a mate that loves God more than them, and bottom line–no one cares where you got your degree, no one.  And all of us need to be around those who are broken, humble, see themselves as the worst sinner they know, treat each other with respect, and love God with all their heart.  We need to feel the heat of humility in order to pursue humility.  We need to be in the midst of a church where humility is modeled, where elders shepherd, men submit and all of us wear humility like we are wearing our favorite clothes.  Peter says “therefore” on the basis of an entire church seeking to model humility–therefore what?

#2 Embracing God’s hand in cultivating humility

Verse 6, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.”  Humble yourself is the main command in verses 6 to 7.  God is not suggesting you try to be humble now and then.  God is not asking you to accept the importance of humility.  God is not merely wanting you to resist pride.  God is commanding you to pursue humility.  God wants you to leave here today with a greater passion to wear humility in all your actions, in your speech, even in your thoughts.  Embrace the need for you to grow more humble today.

In verse 5 we are to be humble to one another, but that really can’t happen unless verse 6 is true, that we’re humble before God.  What does that mean?  One dictionary defines humble as “having or showing a sense of lowliness or inferiority.”  The most common Greek words that are translated humble in the New Testament mean low, lowly, to make low, to make oneself low, insignificant, weak, and lowliness of mind.  Simply stated, humility means seeing others as higher than ourself.

The word humility here literally means “to level a mountain or a hill.”  Humble people are those who have no hills sticking up.  They are not filled up with the hot air of arrogance and pride.  They are not people who clamor to be popular or the focus.  There is some debate whether the command to be humble in verse 6 is middle or passive voice–that means it can be translated humble yourselves, meaning you act upon yourself to pursue humility or be humbled, meaning as God gives you trials, suffering and persecution in your life, Christian, allow God to humble you.

Either way, Peter says, pursue humility under God’s active work.  Or as verse 6 says, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.  The hand of God refers to two truths–the discipline of God and the deliverance of God.  The world’s strategy in tough times is to work hard, get ahead, don’t let anything get in your way and promote yourself.  The goal is to make it to the top and stay there.  It doesn’t matter who you step on along the way or who you leave behind, even if it’s your family or your friends.  It is a dog-eat-dog world and puppies don’t make it.

But God says the opposite–in tough times, humble yourselves knowing God is at work by allowing or directly causing your trial.  No matter what you are going through right now or in life, God has allowed it indirectly or caused it directly, and when God squeezes you with a little pain or rescues you from a hot spot, you are to embrace His Work for His glory and your good.

When training camp counselors at a Jr. camp, I taught my counselors to have their kids sit all around them, surrounding them in the front back and both sides so that any kid could be touched by the counselor any time any kid misbehaved.  Whenever a counselor had to carefully touch a kid’s shoulder to get him to settle down, there was always one of two responses.  One was to shirk off the counselors hand in defiance.  The other was to submit to the touch and calm down.  The kids who humbled themselves would actually shrink down, get low, come under the hand, not resist, not fight but embrace it.  That is what Peter is picturing here–you willingly accept His discipline or you gratefully embrace His deliverance.

God does not want you to fight his providence.  God does not want you to manifest pride–He hates pride.

Proverbs 6:16 to 17, “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty [proud] eyes . . .”

Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.”

Pride steals God’s glory, pride destroys faith, pride muddies love.  How do you see pride in your life?  John Piper writes,

First  Pride is self-satisfaction

God says to Israel in Hosea 13:4 to 6, “I have been the Lord your God since the land of Egypt . . . 5 I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of drought. 6 As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore, they forgot Me.”  Our material blessings, produce self-satisfaction which results in forgetting God.

Second  Pride is self-sufficiency and self-reliance

Moses warns the people of God in Deuteronomy 8:11 to 17 about what will happen when they have rest in the Promised Land.  “Beware . . . 12 lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply . . . 14 then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt . . . [and you] 17 say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’”  God’s goodness is turned into self-sufficiency.

Third  Pride considers itself above instruction

In Jeremiah 13:9 to 10 God says to the people of Judah, “I will destroy the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 This wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts.”  Pride stubbornly refuses to be taught the way of God, and makes its own desires the measure of truth.

Fourth  Pride is insubordinate

Psalm 119:21 says, “Thou dost rebuke the arrogant, the cursed who wander from Thy commandments.  When the commandments of God are spoken, pride turns away and will not submit.”  Pride rejects the right and authority of God to command.  When we have too many chiefs but not enough Indians, or too many generals and not enough soldiers we lack humility.

Fifth  Pride takes credit for what God alone does

One of the most vivid illustrations of this is the case of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar said in Daniel 4:30 to 32, “’Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’ 31 While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar . . . sovereignty has been removed from you . . . 32 until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’”  Then after his season of humiliation grazing in the fields like an ox, Nebuchadnezzar is restored and confesses in Daniel 4:37, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”

Sixth  Pride lives for being honored and loves taking credit

Jesus indicted the religious leaders in Jerusalem in Matthew 23:6 to 7, “And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, Rabbi.”

And you remember what happened to Herod in Acts 12:21 to 23, “And on an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. 22 And the people kept crying out, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’ 23 And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.”

Seventh  Pride refuses to trust in God

Proverbs 28:25 contrasts arrogance and trust, “An arrogant man stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.”  Pride cannot trust God.  The posture of trust is too weak, too dependent.  It calls too much attention to the strength and wisdom of another.  Yet trusting God is the heartbeat of humility, the opposite of pride.

When pride keeps us from trusting in God to take care of us, there are two possibilities–one is that we feel a false security based on our own imagined power and shrewdness to avert catastrophe.  The other is we realize we can’t guarantee our security, so we feel anxious.

Eighth  Pride is anxiousness about the future

Isaiah 51:12 to 13 God tells anxious Israel their problem is pride.  “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, and of the son of man who is made like grass; 13 that you have forgotten the Lord your Maker?”  Who do you think you are to be afraid?  Sounds strange, doesn’t it?  But that’s how subtle pride is.  Pride is the root of our anxiety.

So Christian, when God squeezes you hard with His mighty hand, humble yourself–submit to His work, trust in His love, His control, His power and His wisdom.  Rely on Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Next Peter adds in verse 6 that you should be . . .

#3  Trusting His perfect timing

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you at the proper time–literally, that you might be elevated in a season.  Peter tells us the purpose of God humbling Christians.  The word “that”, iva indicates purpose–allow God to humble you so God can fulfill His promise of future exaltation.

Peter remembered what Jesus said to the proud Pharisees in Mathew 23:12, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”  No matter how low life gets, as you depend upon Christ there will come a time when you will be exalted, literally raised or lifted up–where you as a believer are lifted out of your trials and sufferings at His wisely-determined time.

The verb “He may exalt” says God is the one who exalts, but the verb is not declaring a certainty–exalting will not always happen in this life.  This may happen, God may exalt you now or He may reward you later.  Some have suggested that the exalting is describing heaven, but the verb’s uncertainty and the Greek word for time tell us this is not the case.  The Greek word time is not an eschatological term, and this is not speaking of Christ’s return or living in heaven forever.  No, Peter is talking about a time when the Lord lifts the humble believer up out of difficulty.  God is talking about this life, and there are times, after God pours on the heat, when God will exalt you in this life–raise you up and shine through you.  Like the Olympic weightlifter who waits for the light, allowing him to drop the weight, then receive applause.

And the Greek word proper time refers to seasons–marriages go through sweet seasons and sour seasons.  Families go through seasons of happiness and hardship.  Churches experience seasons of delight and difficulty.  And Christians go through seasons of bliss and seasons of blisters.  True humility is seen in the willingness to patiently wait for things according to God’s timetable–the proper time.  When the time is right from God’s point of view, the trial will end.  So how do Christians humble themselves when the heat is on?

#4  Dumping all your fears and worry on Christ

Read verse 7, “Casting all your anxiety on Him.” I used to love it when my boys were very young and they were suddenly frightened or faced with genuine danger–their response was immediate.  They amazingly climbed up my legs and torso in order to get into my arms and wrap their arms around my neck.  That’s a type of picture Peter is painting, but more vivid is the verb casting.  It means to cast off, throw away or hand over.

You know how when you share a burden with someone it is lessened in your own life–you have placed that worry on another.  Possibly you’ve said, “I can’t deal with this worry right now”–in a sense you’ve thrown that struggle away temporarily.  Maybe you’ve actually responded to worry when it knocks at your door by having Jesus actually answer the door and you don’t even bother giving it the time of day.  “You get it, Jesus!  Tell him he’s not welcome.”  Like I used to do with an empty field close to my house–I would dump all my worries there before I came home to my family.

That is the Greek word casting–you actively, continually give those fears, anxieties and pressures away to Christ.  Anxiety includes discontentment, discouragement, despair, questioning, pain, suffering and whatever trials you encounter.  Give it all to Jesus–all of it–why?  Sure, worry is bad for your health, makes God look bad, undermines faith, trust and hope, but the main reason God gives here is because worry is pride.  And pride is what God hates–God hates your worry.

Did you notice the grammatical connection between verses 6 and 7?  “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  It’s not merely a new sentence.  Verse 7 is a subordinate clause.  “Humble yourselves” is the main verb, and the participle, “casting your anxieties on him.”  This means “casting your anxieties on God” is an expression of humility.  It’s like saying, “Eat politely–chewing with your mouth shut.”  “Drive carefully–keeping your eyes open.”  “Be generous–inviting someone over for a meal.”  “Humble yourselves–casting your anxieties on God.”

One way to be humble is to cast your anxieties on God, which means one hindrance to casting your anxieties on God is pride, which means undue worry/fear about anything is a form of pride.  Whatever fear, struggle, care, worry, anxiety, issue or problem you are carrying around right now, repent of it now, because it is pride.  God hates it.  It makes Him opposed to you.

The churches Peter was writing were under the threat of being jailed, tortured and killed just for claiming to follow Christ.  Those believers were tempted to be anxious 24/7, but Peter says, “Be humbled and cast your care on Christ,”–why?

#5  Experiencing His care in coming alongside of you

Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  Throwing your cares upon Jesus is not a misplaced confidence or a misguided truth.  In the Greek it is very clear–literally Peter writes, because to Him it is a care about you, and in doing so God is informing you everything that creates anxiety for you in this life is a matter of great concern for Christ.  To care here is to be concerned–to be of great interest to someone, to be thinking about them continually.  I care.

If your spouse is going in for a serious medical problem, you don’t even have to try to think about them–you do so continually.  This is the kind of care God has for you in the midst of your struggles, pains, hurts and trials, and the concern God has for His Church, or all of you, since the you in the phrase “He cares for you” is plural.

Christian, how can you possibly doubt God’s care for you?  If Christ would go to the cross, die for your sins, suffer the wrath of God that should have been poured out on you, then rose from the dead, and did this while you were ungodly and uninterested.  Then how can you doubt His care, now that you are His eternal child, justified with the perfect righteousness of Christ, completely forgiven for all sins, and can stand in His presence because of what the perfect Son of God did for you?  How can you doubt His care?

Do you know what the great barrier is in your life that keeps you from putting others first and thinking of others as more important than yourself?  Simply, it is this–your fear, the barrier, is this–If I do that, who will then care for me?  If I put others first and treat others as more important, who will care for me?  And God’s answer is “I will.”  God will.  Christ Himself will care for our needs.  He has a mighty hand and is able to do far better than we can.  And He wants to do so because He genuinely cares for you.  Therefore, casting all your anxieties upon Him is the path to humility, freeing you from constant concern for yourself, and enabling you to truly be concerned for the needs of others.

Now you can clearly feel the full force of 1 Peter 5:6 to 7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”  How?  In what way shall you humble yourselves?  Answer–verse 7, by “casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.”  In other words, the humblest thing in the world is to do what 1 Peter 4:19 says, “Entrust your soul to a faithful Creator.”

Casting your anxieties on God means trusting the promise that He cares for you, and has the power and wisdom to put that care to work in the most glorious way.  That trust is the opposite of pride.  That trust in Christ’s care for you is the essence of humility.  That trust is the confidence that the mighty hand of God is not over you to crush you, but to care for you just like the promise says.

If you are certain He cares for you, you will stop thinking about yourself so much.  If you are confident He cares for you, you will delight in serving others faithfully.  If you are positive He cares for you, you will be able to give more of your income to the church.  If you are convinced of His care for you, you will be able to help those who require extra time.  If you are sure of His care for you, you will stop being so anxious about uncertainties.  When you daily think about the cross and what Christ did for you, you will become less proud and more humble.  And when you remember each day how much He cares for you, you will stop giving into the pride of worry.

Whenever your heart starts to be anxious about the future, preach to your heart and say, “Heart, who do you think you are to be afraid of the future and nullify the promise of God?  No, heart, I’ll not exalt myself with anxiety.  I refuse to live by fear, and will now live by faith.  I will humble myself in peace and joy as I trust this precious and great promise of God—He cares for me.”  Let’s pray.

 


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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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