Restored, Confirmed, Strengthened, and Established
1 Peter 5:1-14
1So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” [Proverbs 3:34] 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 12By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Peter closes his first letter with words of wisdom concerning how we comport ourselves as Christ-followers. To an unbelieving world, actions definitely speak louder than words, to borrow a quote from Abraham Lincoln. First he addresses those who would serve the Church as pastors and spiritual leaders. The shepherd of the flock is held to a high standard, for the world is watching to see if your actions betray or uphold your teaching. That leadership from the clergy looks more like Jesus washing feet than it does driving the merchants from the temple. While there is room for both attitudes in a pastor, the former wins more souls than the later. The word for this is humility. I had a guy ask me once to pray that God would make him more humble. I found that to be a curious request, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t pray that for him. First of all, the things that God allows in our lives to teach us humility are generally painful. I wasn’t prepared to pray that for him. And second, I believe that humility is a choice. That gentleman needed to humble himself and I don’t think he was ready to do that. I could have prayed before God’s throne with tears and fasting, and I doubt it God was going to “make him humble.” That’s why the first two words of verse 6 are “Humble yourselves”.
Following the reminder for humility, we find another reminder to be sober-minded and watchful. The reason for that is the work of Satan is ever present in the world. He seeks to devour us! That’s a graphic and compelling picture. I most certainly do not wish to be devoured by Satan. But I am completely aware of his power to do so if I walk in his direction. Instead, Peter tells us to resist his ways and temptations. Yes, we all fail at that. He knows exactly what to offer us so that sin lurks around every corner. And as Paul says in Romans 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” If that were not the fact of our existence, Jesus could have remained in heaven. But sin is our reality and failure is our companion. His blood covers that sinfulness, thanks be to God.
Peter pulls no punches here. Our walk on this earth is fraught with suffering and pain. Sin and Satan are just waiting to trip us up. But the truth of God’s Kingdom is that we will be restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established as His children. The future is bright, and because of that, so is the present. Pease to all of you who are in Christ!