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On Monday, I shared a sermon manuscript. This post is another sermon manuscript on 1 Peter 5:6-11. This is the second sermon I preached, and I am not quite satisfied with it. I think I have some good content, but it is a bit rambling! I am a substitute preacher and partly it was hard to do a sermon on the last chapter of 1 Peter. (It was one of the lectionary readings.) As I say at the beginning, it is easy to misunderstand a passage, especially at the end of a book, if it is not put in proper context. Therefore, I spent time setting it up.

However, in retrospect, I should have made the “set up” briefer! I may have lost people before I even got to the passage itself. I also think I read too many other Bible verses. Referencing other Scripture is helpful, but I think I referenced too many. (Lessons learned!)  It is long for a blog post – 2,200 words – but only a 15-20 minute sermon. Audio link here.

1 Peter 5:6-11

My passage today is 1 Peter 5:6-11, which was read for us. Chapter 5 is the last chapter in 1 Peter, and we need to understand a little bit about chapters 1-4, in order for Peter’s closing thoughts in chapter 5 to be properly understood. Otherwise it is like we are dropping in at the end of a conversation, and we could misunderstand or miss the point because we only heard the ending.

1 Peter was written to Christians in the first century who were suffering various types of trials and troubles, including being persecuted simply for being Christians and living a Christian life. We should not be surprised by hardship in life. Jesus himself said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  Peter, in this letter, points us to Christ as the source of our hope as we endure trials. I have 2 brief introductory points about this letter:

One. Peter points them to the future made possible because of Christ’s resurrection. Chapter 1:3 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” – We have a living hope. Jesus is alive! Peter goes on to say that despite their trials, God is with them, and the trials can strengthen their faith. He also reminds them that trials are temporary.

Thursday of this past week was Ascension Day on the liturgical church calendar. We remember that Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection, as recorded in Acts chapter 1. The disciples were told that just as Jesus went up into heaven, he will one day return from heaven in the same way.

Jesus came the first time as a humble servant to suffer and die for the sins of the world – But when he comes the second time it will be in power and glory, as a conquering king, and he will bring justice to the many injustices in this world. Revelation 21:4 says “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”As Christians, we should view our present troubles against the backdrop of the future. Take heart, Jesus has overcome.

TWO. Peter also frequently points to Jesus as our example in how he suffered. In chapter 2:21 it says “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in his steps.” We should expect to suffer just like Jesus did. I know that does not sound very encouraging or positive. Expect to suffer.

It does not mean we should seek suffering or celebrate it, that would be inaccurate. Jesus wept when he was on earth, and in the Garden of Gethsemane, as the Cross came closer, Jesus cried out “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  Jesus was not eager to suffer. However, it was the path Jesus had to take, in order to conquer sin and death for us, and emerge victorious as the risen Savior.

In 1 Peter chapter 4:12-13, it says “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” – Did you get that? It is not that we rejoice in the suffering itself, but we should be honored that we get to suffer just like Jesus did. Suffering was Jesus’ path to glory. Likewise, suffering is our path to glory. It is not just an obstacle in our way.

And now we will finally look at today’s passage of 1 Peter 5:6-11.

Verses 6-7 state: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Note the “therefore” in the verse. “Humble yourselves, therefore.” The therefore is referring back to the previous verse. In verse 5, Peter quotes a verse in Proverbs which says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Do you want God to be opposed to you, or do you want God to favor you? I think that is an easy question to answer. We want God to favor us! Therefore, humble yourself! It is a no-brainer.

But humbling ourselves can be easier said than done. Pride is at the heart of our sinful nature. The concept of “7 deadly sins” can be traced back in church history, and pride is perceived as the most serious of the sins, and the source of all the other sins. In pride, we are self-absorbed. I once heard sin defined as being twisted with self-centeredness. We end up approaching life with a self-centered focus, rather than a God-centered focus. We can end up with an entitlement mentality. It is easy for us to overlook or fail to see this tendency in ourselves. Other people are prideful or entitled – not us!

So, how can we become more aware of our pride and humble ourselves?  It’s a tricky virtue. If we focus on becoming humble, well, that’s a conflict with the nature of humility. A focus on your self will not lead to more humility. And if we think we have reached it – “I am finally humble” – that is a sure sign you are not humble! Humility is also a misunderstood virtue. It is not thinking less of yourself, rather, it is thinking of your self less.

I would suggest that we need to look to Jesus. Remember his life of humility. Let it be your guiding example every day.

Philippians 2 says that Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” – The NIV version puts an exclamation point at the end of that. I think for good reason.

Have you ever really pondered this? The all-powerful and all-mighty God of the universe, became an unborn child in the womb of an ordinary peasant girl named Mary. The Creator decided to become a creature. And his life on this earth was one of service. Mark’s gospel says that Jesus “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Furthermore, Jesus was without sin and did only good in this world – and he suffered for it. He was misunderstood and nailed to a Cross, but it was all a part of God’s plan to redeem humanity and bring us salvation.

Remember, verse 6-7: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” This is a God we can trust. God is mighty, but he knows what it is like to be human. Our God can empathize with us. He was one of us.

When you encounter trials and temptations along the path of life, cast your anxiety upon Jesus. Trust Him. He cares for you. And he will lift you up in due time. Note that it says “in due time.” –  Patience. Glory is coming but we can’t short circuit the way there. Remember Jesus. First he suffered and endured the Cross, and then came glory.

As we continue in this passage, verses 8-9 say: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Be alert and of sober mind. That word sober – we may think of it as not being intoxicated with alcohol. But the word more generally refers to having a sensible frame of mind, being clear-headed. Obviously, if you are under the influence of alcohol, you are not usually sensible and clear-headed.

Why do we need to be alert and sober minded? Because our enemy the devil is on the prowl. If a lion roars, that puts other animals and people in the vicinity on the alert. But lions usually stalk their prey, they slowly sneak up on them, and pounce at the last moment. They seldom charge until they are quite close because lions are not fast runners, and they don’t have stamina to run for very long. If the prey was on the alert, they may have noticed the creeping lion ahead of time and been able to escape. But if not, the intended prey is devoured.

I think Peter is warning us to not let the Devil take advantage of hardship in our life, by leading us away from God and into sin.

Suffering and difficulty can have very different effects on people. It can strengthen faith, or weaken faith. I’ve observed both over the years. I’ve seen Christians suffer, and it made their faith stronger. I’ve observed hardship lead to a non-Christian becoming a Christian – the hardship made them seek God and made them more open to spiritual things. But I’ve observed the exact opposite too. I’ve seen Christians walk away from their faith, even outright reject it, because of adversity. I’ve seen non-Christians unfortunately become even more hardened against God because of difficult circumstances.

We need to alert and sober minded about the Devil’s schemes.

Verse 9 further says that we are to resist the Devil, and stand firm in the faith because Christians throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. Because. The Devil can try to make us feel like we should not have to suffer, but suffering is a common experience of the Christian life. Or the Devil may make us feel isolated in our suffering, like we are the only one. Peter wants his readers to see themselves not as isolated, but as a part of the church and to draw encouragement and strength from their solidarity with other believers around the world.

Another theme that runs throughout 1 Peter is the importance of holy living. In each chapter, we are exhorted or urged to live a life that pleases God – not the Devil. We are to resist the Devil, and stand firm in our faith. A verse in chapter 1 says “be holy in all you do.” A verse in chapter 2 says to rid yourself of things like deceit, hypocrisy, and envy. Chapter 3 says we are to love each other, and be compassionate. And that we should not repay evil with evil, but repay evil with blessing. That goes against our natural tendencies, doesn’t it? At least, I would often prefer to repay evil with evil. But that is not the Christian way. Think of Jesus. Even as he hung on the cross dying for us, he cried out “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Remember that Jesus suffered even though he was good, in fact he was perfect. Doing good does not mean we will avoid suffering. Maybe you’ve heard that saying “no good deed goes unpunished.” Sometimes doing the right thing can create misunderstanding or turn people against us. But Peter along with Jesus and other New Testament authors, said that if we suffer for what is right, we are blessed and should praise God.

1 Peter 4:19 says “those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”

Don’t be discouraged, keep doing good. Stay humble. Look to Jesus. Cast your anxiety upon Him.

Finally we come to the last 2 verses of today’s passage, 5:10-11. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Peter closes on a positive note. Not matter what difficulties we face in life, a Christian always has hope. Several reasons are given:

  1. We have God’s grace – God’s undeserved kindness towards us. Our salvation is because of God’s grace, not our goodness. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” And God’s grace continues to help us in every time of need.
  2. When we suffer, God himself will strengthen and empower us. As Peter words it – he is the “God of all grace” and God’s power is sufficient in our Christian life. When we are weak, it is then we are strong.
  3. We are called to eternal glory in Christ. The path can be difficult, but it leads to glory.

I thought I’d end with John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer, which just seemed appropriate and to fit with this passage of I Peter and the book as a whole:

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

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