We are finally on the last sermon for 1 Peter. Here Peter will give his final words to the 5 Roman Provinces in Asia Minor. Therefore, we should listen especially close because these are the things Peter wants to leave in their minds as he draws to a close in his letter. A letter delivered with great expense and burden by the hand of a faithful servant. As we saw last week, Peter had first addressed the elders (pastors) of the churches, giving them strong commands to keep the right motivations and heart while shepherding the people of God. Now, Peter gives his closing words to the rest of the church.
After addressing the elders, Peter then gives a word of instruction to the younger members of the church: Peter 5:5-6: Remember, when Peter was following Jesus in his younger days; he was one of the most strong-willed, cocky, independent of the group—even reprimanding Jesus on one occasion. But now, in his older, seasoned years—after learning the heart and ways of Christ, and learning to be led by the Spirit after many difficult trials and hardships—Peter realizes the great benefit of placing yourself under the authority and wisdom of older people. I have noticed in much of the younger generation today, even among Christians older people are patronized, laughed at, brushed off as old-fashioned, and often considered less intelligent. According to God’s Word this behavior is just the opposite of humble or even intelligent. It is smug and prideful and actually shows ignorance. It shows that you have bought into the ways of this world instead of living in the love of God. Do you believe in God or not? Do you trust Him? Then you are called to be different from those around you. A truly wise and Godly person will see the treasure in the years of experience through successes and failures and be eager to listen to older people in their lives. A truly wise person sees the necessity of order and respect in any setting and culture. If you lose that, you lose the culture. Being humble and subject to older people and putting them before self means seeing their needs and helping them out. Teens and even young adults who are living at home much longer than past generations, often when they are attending college and starting a life, must get away from the mindset of self and think as Christ would. Realize you are not owed anything and you are of an age that you should be responsible and helpful to others by choice—not command—in humbleness and maturity, not being waited upon!. In humbleness, you should be eager to see how you may attend to whatever things are needed. Our lives at any age should be focused on loving and serving others first. That does not start when you leave the house or reach a certain age: 1 Timothy 4:12.
Peter then extends this command to everyone, of every age: Peter 5:5-6: “Clothe yourselves”—means let all see this humbleness when they look at you. How can we live these words in practicality? Start with speaking to, and treating others, with the genuine respect of an equal, not someone less important, less intelligent, or bothersome, but with the genuine love of God. Start by showing kindness and respect to those in lesser positions, lesser jobs, different lifestyles, bigger sins as loved and equal children of God. Start by showing genuine interest in others and their lives, rather than everything being centering around you. The opposite of humble is to make every situation about how it affects you or how you look; to make every conversation about your world rather than showing genuine interest in others; to let the world revolve around your drama, rather than investing yourself in others before self. Could you imagine Jesus doing this? ”Oh, you think you’ve got it so tough? Let Me tell you what I’ve been suffering through, that’s nothing!” Jesus was always humbly meeting needs and always interested in the troubles of those around Him. On the very eve of the worst experience of His life, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet in servitude as He listened to hem discuss who was most important in the Kingdom of Heaven—the same ones asleep in garden; the same ones who scattered and left Him in need. Then Jesus sang hymns of thanks to His Father before heading to His destiny of horror and pain. Like Jesus, being humble at its purest is simply constantly seeing with your heart and showing with your actions the worth of every person you are around in every situation, and investing your time and attention in others over self. How can we possibly think we are truly seeking to do God’s will of loving and serving others if we can’t get this mindset of humbleness and show interest and care for the precious people around us, above self? God’s way is so much better. Many here would become so much happier in life if their attention was turned towards the worth and needs of others rather than dwelling on their own constantly drama.
Next, Peter carries this attitude of humbleness towards one another to humbleness before God: 1 Peter 5:6. This is where we as modern-day Christians seem to have the most trouble because most of us have been told (and believe) that God is here to humble Himself before us to be our servant and meet our every desire. He has already shown the worth He holds for us by humbling Himself—even to the point of dying. for us. Do you not think He has earned our returned humbleness in gratitude and love? Can we not see His worth when He saw ours even in our sins? Most of us don’t even realize that we are not humble before God. We think we are, but we’re not talking about forced attitudes of reverence for a moment in worship or prayer. We are talking reality in our ever thought and action. When we are spending money with no thoughts of God’s desires, we are not humbled that He gave it to us. When we make plans for our lives, relationships, and jobs without considering His will first, awe are putting ourselves before Him. 1 Peter 5:6: We are not humbling ourselves before Him when we are full of anxiety and depression over situation in our lives because we do not recognize and accept that He is in control. We are not trusting Him to take care of us; we aren’t believing He is wiser, trustworthy and faithful. We are actually arrogant and prideful because we feel we can do a better job. This verse says, “Cast!” your anxieties on Him—meaning be done with them; don’t pick them back up. When we are so busy complaining about our lives that we can’t be thankful for all of the blessings we have received—we are not humble before Him—but holding ourselves above Him (even judging a Him), acting entitled and self-focused. Life as we have learned to live it must be completely altered if we are to be humbled before God. When the ridicule, and increasing persecution begins to anger and fret us, we are not humble before God because we are thinking we have more worth than the One who suffered humbly for us; more worth than His lost people. If we believe He is God, then our mindset, our actions, our lives must change from where we are now.
Peter’s final words to this socially isolated and increasingly disliked group of Christians are these: 1 Peter 5:8-11. We so desperately need to grasp this in our hearts so that we might live in reality. Satan has us so completely wrapped up in the distraction of this world in this perceived reality, that He works unnoticed, often unblamed and unopposed to destroy us and steal our hearts from God. Peter’s final exhortation is to be “Sober-minded and watchful.” That means “Grasp true reality and be vigilant.” Understand the reality of where these attacks are coming from and fight the right one—be angry at the right one. Peter says to resist him—recognize the real threat, stop being the victim and fight. Peter gives us the key as to how by standing firm in our faith. Everything Satan does in our lives is designed to make us lose heart and hope and make us doubt God’s existence or goodness. And Peter gives a huge statement of encouragement: “…knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” One of Satan’s greatest tricks is to get you so lost in your troubles, pains or sins that you feel you are the only one. Peter specifically warns these Christians in Roman Provinces not to feel they are suffering these terrible persecutions alone, forsaken, and like no other—but that Christians everywhere were, or would soon be, facing similar, seemingly unbelievable, injustices and mistreatment. So they were encouraged to know they were part of a brotherhood in a Christ—not alone—and to stand fast in their faith. As we feel the anger, astonishment and despair in the rising dislike and persecutions around us, we will also begin to feel isolated, alone and hopeless. Peter says hold your head up because you are part of the resistance all over this world—you are not alone, so keep the faith—because God gives us the same promise He gave them. Satan uses this tactic as one of his most powerful attacks on all of us, in many different ways in life, making us feel we are the only ones to fight and fail in a sin this badly; to have these thoughts or struggles; to hurt this badly; to have been done this wrongly or unfairly; and in the mental and spiritual isolation of your predicament, it finally causes you total despair, and they ultimately withdraw into a private, isolated hell. Some even go far enough to attempt to end it. When you reach that point, you have to listen to these words of Peter—know you aren’t the only one who’s been here or done this; know that even if you were, God never leaves you, and then humble yourself enough to truly “cast” your burden on Him. Humble yourself to recognize you can’t handle the pain alone; you can’t solve the issue; you can’t stop the thoughts, and trust God to carry you through. Cast your pain to Him—meaning you can’t get to it anymore; you can’t pick it back up. You can only rest and trust that He’s got it. Powerful, relevant closing words for this broken, sinful, stressed out generation. Peter then closes the letter in warm love and a reminder of the like company in the faith: 1 Peter 5:12-14. Silvanus is elsewhere in Scriptures also known as “Silas.” The same Silas who was arrested, beaten and chained in the Philippi jail with Paul. The Greek wording strongly asserts that Silas wasn’t the secretary of the letter, but the deliverer. “She who is a Babylon” is a reference to the Church in Rome—their modern day Babylon—where they were strangers in exile to a sinful land.
This society around us today is fast becoming the “Modern Day Babylon” for us as well. Stay humble towards others and God. Know you are not alone, not irredeemable, not forsaken—then cast your cares on Christ. Walk with true reality in vigilance and join the resistance. Keep your mind on the true battle for your heart and stand in faith. You are not alone!
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