1 Peter 5 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence
“Likewise…clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”
Surely, we remember that this is the same man who boasted that even if all the other disciples fell away from Christ, he would never fall away, before he denied Christ three times. It is this same man who now identifies himself as a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. All throughout this first epistle Peter has exhorted his readers to have a humble mind, in patiently enduring affliction and in submitting to all those in authority over them.
Humility literally is a lowliness of mind, not thinking too highly of oneself in comparison to others. This is an attitude which must be put on daily like clothing. In the Greek, the word for ‘clothing’ refers literally to a white scarf or apron that was fastened to the belt of the vest that distinguished a slave from a freeman. It was the type of clothing that Jesus put on when he washed his disciples feet before the last Supper.
Of course, Peter is not saying literally to dress like a slave, but to think like one. It is the same attitude that Peter exhorted godly women to have in ch.3 when he said, “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of the hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands.” In other words a beautiful godly woman is recognized by her gentleness and her submissiveness, and it is the same for a godly church member. It is not how much one knows, or how much she does that counts, but how her knowledge and her work is placed in subjection to Christ and to His church.
This idea of putting on figurative godly clothing is a common theme in Paul’s epistles as well. In Romans 13.14, he said, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.” In Ephesians 4, he said, “putt of your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” He tells the Colossians the same thing emphasizing particularly to put on: “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another, and…forgiving each other.” Similarly, Paul says, to “walk in a manner worthy of your calling with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.”
The humble man or woman is one who is both growing in love with Christ and with those in the church. He is growing in kindness, patience and meekness. He is growing in his ability to listen and to take counsel. He is growing in his willingness to receive correction and rebuke, and he is growing in his esteem for others. Paul said, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”
But why is this so important? The first reason is because our sanctification can be summed up entirely by our having the mind of Christ. In order to grow as a Christian we must think like Christ who “though he was equal with God did not grasp at that equality but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
The Second reason humility is so important is because of the verse Peter quotes at the end of v.5: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Taken from Proverbs 3.34, Peter is teaching us that God actually stands in opposition to the proud. If you humble yourself before the Lord, he will give you favor and grant you grace regardless of who you are. But, if you become arrogant and proud, God will actually stand against you. Never forget that the Lord brought judgment upon Israel in the same way that he brought it upon the Canaanites.
And the third reason that humility is so important is that at the proper time that same mighty hand of God will be used to exalt you. None of your sufferings is in vain, although all discipline seems painful at the time, it later will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness to all those who have been trained by it. Now there may be a brief moment of exaltation in your life here on earth. Even Jesus was transfigured on the mount before the three disciples, and he also received great praise and glory on Palm Sunday, but those were only fleeting moments. That’s not what Peter is referring to. Rather he is referring to the appointed time when God would highly exalt Jesus and bestow upon him the name that is above every name, so that at his name, every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father. And at the appointed time, we too will share in the glory as sons of God, if we first share in his humiliation. So in the mean-time, by God’s grace, put on those humble clothes.