God’s Word for You
1 Peter 5:5 Be humble
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, May 23, 2022
5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.
Peter continues in the context of the church. He has just cautioned the church’s elders (pastors) about their conduct and potential sins and pitfalls; now he says “in the same way” to the young men.
Among church workers (called workers such as pastors and teachers), the younger men should listen and be subordinate to the older men, and especially the elders, that is, pastors. Young men don’t have as much experience or knowledge about troubles and problems in the church, and once they have learned their doctrine, they can gain fast and lasting experience simply by following a pastor with experience. How does he speak with a shut-in member? How does he speak with a family with a child who turns away from Christ? How does he counsel a husband whose wife is having an affair? How does he guide their children? How does he teach a class of young people, especially when some of them are hellions and troublemakers? And a hundred other things? Some things a young man will learn will fall into the “things not to do” category, but it will still be a valuable experience.
Among other young men, laymen who serve the congregation, things should run a parallel course. They should listen to the older men. It’s fine to voice an idea or an opinion, but they should listen carefully to the responses from the older men. Young men, especially those new to the faith, often get confused by the sinful nature showing itself in ordinary Christians. They forget or don’t understand that sin still exists even after conversion, and they can become depressed and run close to despair by what they see in a church. They need to continue to learn the doctrine of the Scriptures before they begin to judge the people they want to help serve. On the outside of the fence, the flock may look tidy and wonderful, but inside the fence, the flock needs constant guidance and encouragement. They might all be moving in the right pasture, but at any given moment half of them will be walking in the wrong direction. The called men and the laypeople who serve them must not become discouraged, and therefore they need to look out for one another and regularly build each other up with God’s word and with the gospel.
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.” (NIV)
This continues Peter’s command to young men. If we would be humble to one another and “if this were prevalent today,” Luther says, “one would not need so many laws.” Peter might have a moment in mind when Jesus washed Peter’s own feet, and the Apostle had to have a lesson in humility. Most people resist the idea of getting their feet washed in our culture just because we would be concerned about what the foot washer would think of our cracked skin, imperfect toenails and stinky tootsies. That’s not why Peter objected. Peter couldn’t get past the idea of his Lord performing the menial work of a servant, but that was Jesus’ whole point. We should serve one another.
This is also what Solomon was getting at with Proverbs 3:34, which says in our translation, “He (God) mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble” (James quotes the same Proverb; James 4:6). God’s attitude toward all the wicked will be the same on judgment day, condemning them to everlasting torment for their sins. But even in this lifetime, the wicked are mocked by God, who says, “I will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you like a storm” (Proverbs 1:26), and “They will call on me but I will not answer” (Proverbs 1:28), because God does not hear the prayers of unbelievers (Isaiah 59:2).
The words, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble,” also describe the correct proclamation of law and gospel: The law of God must be preached in all its sternness to those who are proud and who live securely in their sins. The gospel of Christ must be preached in all its bliss and beauty to those who are in terror on account of their sins. This is because the repentant don’t need to be crushed more by the law, and the unrepentant aren’t going to listen to the gospel. “The Lord humbles and he exalts” (1 Samuel 2:7); “He has scattered those who are proud… but has lifted up the humble” (Luke 1:51,52).
In everything, it is wise and God-pleasing to live humbly (Micah 6:8). The Lord gives grace to the humble (James 4:6), guides the humble (Psalm 25:9), sustains the humble (Psalm 147:6), saves the humble (Psalm 18:27), and crowns the humble with salvation and everlasting life (Psalm 149:4). To be content with our position or station in life as well as with the way God provides for us is itself a great blessing. Praise God for every blessing he gives!
Pastor Timothy Smith