Today’s culture is all about “me.” We even see this a lot in churches today. Many pastors buy into the notion that you must be popular, a big name, growing in fame and acclaim, and have a large presence on social media etc. Yet, at the root of some of these people (not all) is pride. In 1 Peter 5:5 Peter addresses this issue (something not only happening today) and actually quotes his fellow disciple James (referencing James 4:6-7) when he states that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” What does that mean and look like? How does God oppose the proud and give grace to the humble? Is Peter simply discussing salvific themes here or is there more going on?
When we take a look at vs. 6, we get a more full picture. “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and at the proper time, He may exalt you.” When you put the two together, as well as remember the previous verses- we can deduce the meaning. God opposes those who are proud, He even resists them, but He gives grace to those who are humble. Because of that, humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you when it is the right time. So what does that mean for you? Well, it doesn’t definitely, without a doubt, mean that you get the promotion you have been waiting for if you simply become humbler. What Peter is focusing on here is the heart of the believer towards not only their own lives but towards the lives of others. Humble people do not mind if others succeed and they do not. Humble people rejoice when God is glorified in someone else’s plenty because they know how to glorify God within their want. You would not want a leader of your church (one of the elders) to be more concerned with themselves and their ego right? Of course not!
Yet, in our lives, we live as if that if the goal. Peter exhorts us to “clothe” ourselves in humility, not to simply sprinkle it in various aspects of our lives. Rather, humility should be the foundation upon which we build and grow. If God wants to bless us, we should strive to not simply add humility afterward. We must look to the greatest example of humility to ever have lived- Christ. Philippians 2:5-11 shows us that our very Savior, who IS God, did not use that as a way to avoid dying in our place. Christ saw fit to be humbled and take upon himself the full wrath of God- the same wrath you to which you and I were to be subjected.
So be like Christ this week. Consider others more important than you this week. Clothe yourself with humility by remembering that you would still owe God payment for your sins at the end of this life, yet Christ saved you from that by accomplishing that on the cross. Our greatest need was to be redeemed and it was met in Christ’s death alone. We were once doomed to die, and are now justified- that should be humbling.