1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. NIV
Once again, in this first epistle of Peter, we are given instructions for Godly living. Peter tells his readers to “humble themselves.” That directive brings up two important questions. One, what does it mean to humble one’s self, and two, why should I do that? Without answering those two questions, it is highly unlikely that any believer can truly follow Peter’s charge.
The word for humble is tapeinoo in Greek. According to Strong’s, it means to depress or humiliate (in condition or heart). Many people take this to mean that we should act as though we are worthless or not important. The Bible certainly does not support that and Jesus did not teach that. Look at what He said in Matt 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (NIV)
Jesus thought of us as being so valuable, that He would willingly sacrifice His very life for us. He does not want us thinking that we are not valuable, but instead, to not think of ourselves more highly than we should. The apostle Paul states it this way in Rom 12:3 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (NIV)
When this letter was written by Peter, the church was beginning to suffer persecution. The implication in this letter is that believers were wondering why they had to endure this persecution. Why was God allowing them to go through this suffering? Peter is telling them that though they may not know the answer to that, they should still submit themselves to God. They needed to understand that the humbling of self, is just the realization that they are under “God’s mighty hand” and whatever happens to them is ultimately under His control.
Peter had already spoken about this earlier. In 1Peter 4:19 he states, “So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (NIV) The persecution of these believers was soon to escalate severely, yet Peter reminds them that their Creator is faithful. That reality answers the question of why they should follow this directive. They serve a faithful Creator, who calls them to holy living, in spite of their circumstance.
There are two more good reasons listed, that encourage their obedience. One is a negative consequence to those who will not humble themselves. 1 Peter 5:5 says, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (NIV) It is simple. If you are prideful, God opposes you. Pride is the sin that got Satan kicked out of heaven. It is condemned over and over in the scriptures.
But look at the positive benefit given to those who would humble themselves before God. He gives grace! Not only that, but our key verse tells us that in due time, He will lift you up! That word is translated in the KJV as exalt. Literally, it means to elevate. Jesus said the same thing in Luke 14:11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (NIV)
When is this due time? Well, it’s interesting that this same phrase is used in a parable Jesus taught in Matthew 24 concerning His second coming. The point He makes, is that a faithful and wise servant is one who takes good care of His master’s property when the master is away, not knowing when the master will return.
The point for these believers and us as well is clear. We are called to be good stewards of the gospel, by our deeds as well as our words, until the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are told to do this, no matter what our circumstances are, in humble obedience to Him. We are to trust in His grace and mercy. That humble obedience will be rewarded at the return of Christ, when we will be exalted at the judgment (bema) seat. (See 2 Cor 5:10)
What a great day that will be! I encourage you today to humble yourself before the Lord, no matter what your circumstances may be. Remember that you are in His mighty hand. Determine in your heart to live the Godly life He has called you to and ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to live that life!
God Bless you,