1 Peter: Seeking Humility

Good morning to you all as well as to those who are tuning in from home today, the day after Halloween.  I hope you were able to make a good day of it – it was nice to see kids come by the house – we had made little baggies and put them out on a table for kids to take one – and it was a blast.

Halloween is great – it’s really the first holiday on the school year calendar.

As a prisoner marks time on a prison wall, every school kid marks time on the school calendar until you are paroled into summer vacation – and the way they mark their time is through the holidays.  The first holiday of the school year is Halloween.  Halloween is the one day a year that a child gets paid in candy for acting like a child.  It’s awesome.  We have many wonderful memories of Halloween in my family growing up.

My father was a police officer and usually worked on Halloween, so my mother would stay home to give out candy and me and my two brothers went out trick or treating.

My mother had a tradition – before we all could leave – she would gather us together and give us Final Instructions.

Number one – say thank you to everyone who gives you candy.  And I will check- I will call Mrs. Gorman or someone else and so help me God they better tell me you were polite.  these people don’t have to give you candy – they could be like Mr. Krouse down the street and turn off the lights and ignore you kids…  so be thankful!

Number two – Stay together! Philip (I was the oldest of the treaters I always had to be in charge – you will make sure you stay together.  the problem with this was that Michael – our youngest brother – the kid – as much as he loved candy – the kid had no stamina – he was always like, I’m tired!  To be fair – I as 10 and he was 5 –  but still – Listen Michael.  You can’t quit now.  Stick with it man!  Don’t you dare give up!  There’s pillaging to be done!

Our final instructions from my mother was this.  Every year she told us – It’s dangerous out there.  There’s all kinds of nut jobs out there – so listen carefully,  if someone gives you an apple on Halloween – you may not eat the apple until you get back to the house and we will cut it open to make sure that no one put a razor blade or a needle in the apple.  Now- go have fun kids!

Thankfully we didn’t get many apples and the ones we did get we just chucked.  Thanks for the apple, you nut job!  Better to be safe than sorry.  Am I right?

To this day – if I’m at Bakers and we’re buying apples?  I’m like Putting it up to the light – Nah!  Chucks it!

Those were my mothers final words to us as we left the house to go out on Halloween.   This morning we are looking not at Peter’s final words to the readers of this, his first of two letters that he wrote to a group of Christians in the first century – a group of people who were being persecuted for their faith.  This morning we will read 1 Peter 5:5-11

So this morning – Peters final words to us…

  1. Humble yourselves under God’s Mighty Hand. (6)
  2. Watch out for our enemy, the devil. (8)
  3. Stand firm in the Lord. (10)

Humble yourselves under God’s Mighty Hand

5b  All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud

    but shows favor to the humble.”

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

 Do you know what would be really really great for the country this week, as we vote on who will be president for the next four years?  What would be really really great – is if people were to show a great deal of humility – no matter the results.  Win or lose – humility, not arrogance.  Not demeaning putdowns.  Just poise, and humility.

And you know what would also be really really great?  If people who claim to be followers of Jesus led the way.  If we, the church, could be the primary source of humility in the states – that would be lovely.

So how about we decide at least we will be like Jesus, whom we profess as Lord, and who described himself as humble servant, that we would decide no matter the results, we will respond lovingly and in humility.

Theoretically – you might think that it would come easy to us but Peter knows, as Jesus knew- that pride is as much of a man-eater – or a woman-eater – as the lions in the coliseum.

You know what pride is?  Nourishing Pride – giving pride safe harbor in your heart –  is the spiritual equivalent of eating a razor blade.  It will cut you to pieces.

Pride is a universal language.  there is a reason why Peter says – All of you – because we are all susceptible. We must all be careful because pride has ways of worming its way into our souls no matter our circumstances.  Remember – – Peter is writing to people who are actively being injured and persecuted for their faith.  Peter says – stay humble – watch out for pride.

Here’s some questions that are decent self assessment quiz questions to get an idea of areas where we aren’t displaying humility.

  1. Are you teachable? Humble people are teachable.  I remember having an intern once in my life – we had an internship program at Christ Community and it was pretty fun to be able to mold people who were preparing for ministry.  I remember one intern in particular – that any time I wanted to address something with this person – he would say, “Yeah Yeah Yeah, I know that.”  He was completely unteachable.  That was many years ago, and you might wonder – how did this person do in ministry – and the answer is – he is doing great.  And know why?  Because you don’t have to be humble to be a pastor – and in fact – it’s a quality all too rare.  Which is why Peter includes pastors specifically in this teaching – in the first four verses that we didn’t read this morning.
  2. Are you correctable? Humble people don’t see correction as a personal assault.
  3. Do you serve? A universal character trait of humble people is a willingness to serve.  As Jesus knelt down with a towel and basin to wash the disciples feet, so do his followers put the needs of others in front.
  4. Are you willing to be served? Or must you always be the knight in shining armor?  It takes humility to receive help.  And I’ll throw this out there – but I’m often surprised at how many people who know it would be helpful to get counseling – refuse to do it.  And I was one of those people, by the way – I was going through a tough stretch a few years ago and God just busted me for my pride – I was so sure I could go it alone.  But I didn’t start to get healthier until I humbled myself to receive the help I needed.  Let us know by the way, if you want some help there – we subsidize professional counseling for anyone at Journey who would like it.
  5. Are you often eaten up with anxiety? Now this seems mean to say this, but it’s Peter who makes the connection between pride and anxiety.  There’s a reason he writes, “Humble yourselves, under God’s mighty hand… 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Now – how are pride and anxiety mixed?  Well, an anxious person is dealing with feelings that God will not be there for them – or that God will not provide for me – or that God cannot be trusted to protect me – An anxious person is not relying on God but upon their own resources.

Now – for those of you who struggle with anxiety – I’m not throwing you under the bus.  There’s a reason Jesus devotes a large portion of his sermon on the mount to the issue of anxiety.  He knows that it’s a universal struggle, that we all need help overcoming.  Including me.  You don’t think there are moments in my life when my head pops off the pillow and I’m worrying about something?  You better believe it.  So what must we do?

Peter invites us to cast our cares upon God.  An interesting word that only appears one other time in the bible – in Luke 19 where it says that the disciples – peter being one of them – cast their cloaks on the back of a donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Do you think that donkey was burdened by the weight of those cloaks that had been cast upon him?  No – and in like manner – Jesus is not burdened by our cares.  So cast them upon him because God cares for you.

God is wild about you, and there’s noting you can do about it.  He likes to help carry your burdens.  Come to me – said Jesus, all of you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens – I will give you rest.

The humblest thing in the world is to do what 1 Peter 4:19 says, trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

The first exhortation from Peter – is to be on guard against pride – and to humble ourselves under God’s wise and good and mighty hand.

Now the second exhortation will dovetail with the first – when Peter tells us

  1. Watch out for the devil!

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 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.

Now there’s two mistakes people make when it comes to thinking about the devil.  One thing is to pretend he doesn’t exist.  And that would be a mistake.

We must understand that Jesus and Peter and Paul and John all the writers of the new testament speak and teach of an actual spiritual adversary.  And though many believe it – but we must be true to the word of God who describes not only the Holy Spirit of God, but also – of a spiritual force of darkness that seeks to destroy Christians.

The other mistake is to see the devil around every corner.  To give into an unhealthy fear or obsession.  So we must avoid the two extremes – of giving the devil too much credit, or none at all.

Now the devil would feed you poisoned candy if God allowed him to, but most often the devil works much less obviously – from within.  He seeks footholds in our own soul – places where we refuse to give over to God – he looks for places where you make room for him to feel at home.

When we have sin in our hearts that we refuse to acknowledge as sin – when we cherish or nourish our sins, we are handing the devil the tools he desires that he will use to chisel away at our faith, from the inside out.

Peter knows it – and he wants us to be alert.  One of the characteristics that you find in a faith that is growing is a sensitivity to when we blow it.  When we are humble and teachable – the spirit will convict us when we blow it.  And then – the appropriate next step is that we talk to God about it – repent – I’m sorry Lord.  I have some growing to do.  Forgive me and help me learn from this.

The result of this, by the way is that we end up repenting more as we grow in our faith.  Some people think that if I grow enough I’ll eventually stop ever sinning.  But that’s not the case – you are more aware of it, and are learning how to overcome.

It is the desire of our adversary to deafen us to God’s voice.  So be on guard.  Watch out. And be prepared to resist!

It’s interesting – the bible never s says to run away from Satan.  We can’t win the battle if we run away.  James 4:7 writes very similar to Peter and Paul, when he writes, Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

We are not the ones running away – the devil is.  Now – how do we resist the devil?  One irrefutable way is through memorization of scripture.  When Jesus tussled with the devil in the wilderness – he quoted scripture.

Never ever memorized scripture?  Star with Psalm 23.  Then the Lord’s prayer.  Then wherever else the spirit leads.  Phil 4:6 is a good one to memorize for those struggling with worry and anxiety.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Matthew 11 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Peter’s final words before his readers went out into a scary world.  He tells us – it’s dangerous out there.  Be humble and be careful.

Lastly – 3.  Stand firm in the Lord.

10 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. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Now – this also dovetails with humility.  Because a humble person trusts God – we trust him – and we count on him to provide, protect, to change us into different kinds of human beings.

As we grow nearer to Him – as we trust him more and more – we will see that it is his desire to make us the kind of people who don’t give up!  Who don’t quit!  Who are up for the challenges of life!

He makes us strong, firm and steadfast.  Like a house built on a rock – we weather the toughest storms and the strongest gales.   He is the one who makes us this way – so trust God.  Lean on him.  Grow in your faith.

If you don’t feel you are these things now?  Bring it before the Lord.  Remind God of his promise.  Lord, restore me.  Strengthen me.  Make me a steadfast person – not adrift, but anchored.  Help me persist and persevere.

Help me to become the kind of person Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 4

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.  16 ….we never give up!

We never give up!  Lord, my prayer today is for those in this room who feel on the edge of giving up.  They are right there.  Lord, strengthen them.  Give them what they need to be able to stand up under the strain.