In the universe there are physical laws. The law of gravity works every time! There are also spiritual and moral laws. 1 Peter 5:5 quotes one of God’s great moral laws. The apostle Peter says, “For God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humility is our greatest friend. Pride is our greatest enemy. God fights against the proud. Pride puts us on a collision course with God. Pride cuts us off from God’s grace. The bad news is that God fights against the proud. The good news is that He fights for the humble.
The word opposed is a military term. It means “to station or arrange against.” Pride was the very first sin. Pride spontaneously generated in the heart of Satan. His pride caused him to rebel against God. Pride means “to shine above others” or “to set yourself above others.” Pride toward people means looking down on them. It views ourselves as the standard. Pride toward God brings an attitude of self sufficiency. It says, “God, I don’t need you. I can handle this. I’m not going to listen to You. Leave me alone. I will run my own life.”
God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. Grace is God’s unmerited favor to those who deserve the opposite. We need God’s grace. God continually gives grace to the humble. Every single one of us struggle with pride. Pride is a universal problem. How can we build humility into our lives? How can we replace pride with humility? Peter shows us the way. 1 Peter 5:5-7 reveals three imperatives to build humility into our lives.
The first imperative is to come under authority. Verse 5 says, “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to your elders.” God has ordained leaders in the church. These people are known as elders. Deep down we are all rebels. We don’t like authority! We struggle as teenagers obeying parents. It’s hard to be respectful to teachers. Paying taxes and obeying the government is not easy. Being respectful and obedience to our bosses is difficult.
Humility begins by coming under authority. The greatest authority in our lives must be God’s Word. God has spoken. Every time we open the Bible God speaks. We must come under the authority of God’s Word. The best news is that Jesus died for our sins. The Bible refers to this as the gospel or “the good news.” The gospel is an announcement, a command and an invitation. The gospel demands action. We must put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus as our Messiah.
The second imperative is be the servant of everyone. Verse 5 also says, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility…” The word clothe is a very interesting word. It means “tying on the apron of a slave.” Peter spent three plus years as the disciple of Jesus. When Peter wrote this undoubtedly he was thinking about a very specific incident.
John 13 is the Last Supper. Jesus celebrated the Passover and instituted the Lord’s Supper. On the way to the dinner the disciples argued over who was the greatest. Normally a slave washed the dirty feet of guests. However, there was no slave at this dinner. Jesus did something very shocking. “He laid aside His outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around His waist. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with a towel that was wrapped around Him” (John 13:4-5).
Jesus washed the disciples dirty feet. He demonstrated the importance of serving. Jesus did not focus on His own interests. He focused on the interests of others. Matthew 20:28 says, “For even the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.” Jesus fed the hungry. Once He fed five thousand men plus women and children. He healed the blind. He raised the dead. God continually gives grace to the one who serves others.
The third imperative is to accept God’s providence in our lives. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you.” Life does not turn out the way we expect. God has a plan for each of our lives. His plan is often not our plan!
Humility begins by not complaining about our circumstances. Discontent must be replaced by gratitude. Romans 8:28 says, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God….” We can look back and see that God’s plan is perfect. The promise is that God will exalt us. Trust His perfect plan for your life.
1 Peter 5 ends with a test. How do we know if we are walking in humility? Verse 7 says, “…casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” A humble person walks in dependence. We demonstrate our need for God through prayer. Our attitude should never be, “God, I have this. I don’t need your help. Leave me alone.” That is pride! Instead, we humbly come to God in prayer. We cast our anxieties upon Him. The great encouragement is, “Because He cares for you.” God’s love for His people is vast and deep and unmeasured.
Humility is our greatest friend. Pride is our greatest enemy. We all need a good dose of humility. Let’s replace pride with humility. We do so by coming under authority, being the slave or servant of all and accepting God’s providence in our lives.
Ethan Hansen is the pastor at the Faith Bible Fellowship in Big Lake.