Four Promises of 1 Peter 5
In looking at 1 Peter a few weeks ago I stumbled across some of the great promises in Chapter 5. I think we often think of the bible in terms of what we need to do and what we should do and we don’t often mention the wonderful promises. God cares for us and is so generous that not one thing we do will ever return void. In our own daily lives it is easy to get caught up in individual situations while not stopping to remember the eternal perspective and the end goal: Eternity with Jesus.
Here are four promises that I found in 1 Peter 5:
…you will receive the crown of Glory that will never fade away. V. 4
Service isn’t always easy. When we serve one another, truly serve, we must lay down our own life for our brother. God calls us in the first 3 verses of 1 Peter 5 to watch over his people and set an example before them. He calls us not to do this out of obligation but out of willingness that can only be defined as true love for one another. While this passage is specifically spoken to elders I do encourage each of us to receive the truth and promise that God has given to us here.
Those of you that have served one another in any capacity knows that it often involves getting dirty. Medical care of someone requires a lot of hard work and often blood and body fluids. Feeding a lot of people will involve dirty dishes and cleaning up trash after the hard work of washing and prepping the food which you served. Even serving a friend in moving from one house to another requires a set of old clothes and gloves as you pack up items and the hidden dirt we all have in our homes flies about. How about “clean” service? How many times have you served a friend coffee or tea as a time of sharing only to end up spilling your own emotional dirt and having them gently help you make sense of your feelings in a Godly way? Yes, even clean service requires one laying down your own thoughts and relating in a way that extends grace.
But here, God lets us know that He sees us when we are serving. He sees us getting dirty and laying down our own comfort levels for the benefit of others. When others do not see our sacrifice and service, God does. And he promises that he will provide a crown of Glory that will never fade away. Our crown will never get dirty in heaven, it will never need to be taken off and cleaned, it will never need to be laid aside for fear of getting dirty. God is giving us an eternal perspective for our service in reminding us that all we see here is temporary. This is our chance to be his hands and feet on earth because in heaven we will all be serving in His presence daily. But right now, we can serve in a way that is unique and is simply in faith.
Just yesterday I was feeling the heat of my service at home. I was tired and run down a little bit. I have been busy the last few weeks serving others and serving in my own home. Spring cleaning, yard cleaning, house cleaning, cooking each day to accommodate my husband’s changing work schedule, etc. To top things off there has been an unhappy person that has decided to act rashly and profanely against my husband and I rather than work things out maturely. There has been a lot of added stress on my disabled body the past few weeks and yesterday as I cleaned out both of our vehicles I became angry.
“Why can’t my husband pick up after himself,” I thought. “Why must I be the only one that does any of the cleaning around here,” I wrongly believed. But when I remembered that I am to serve and serve eagerly my heart was convicted. I stopped and remembered all the ways that I have been blessed to be home and not required to hurt my body further by working outside the home. How the Lord has blessed me with a home to care for and a husband to serve and love. How we have been supported and surrounded with friends and family that do love us and support us and how I must love the one person that is denouncing us enough to let them go. It changed my mind really quickly as I remembered the grace provided for me. Now, reading this verse again today I am encouraged even further. I don’t serve for glory but it truly is a comfort to know that the Lord sees and the Lord knows.
…he may lift you up in due time (v.6)
Written to the younger people in his audience, Peter encourages the younger members to submit to the elders. He then addresses everyone and says “clothe yourselves in humility towards one another”.
Remembering to keep an eternal perspective on things is becoming more important to me as I age. The things that I once found so impertinent to stand up for or voice my opinion on are not really as critical anymore. All will one day see the Truth (including myself), so a lot of the more petty points of theology or even daily agendas have taken a back burner in my relationships. In the grand scheme of things, if the ocean is but a drop in the palm of God’s hand (Isa 40;12), how much smaller am I? Yes, I truly matter as He has formed me and loved me from the time in my mother’s womb (Ps 139), but at the same time having the bigger picture at the front of my mind is acting in wisdom.
I see a lot of posts lately on Facebook that say something to the effect of “Don’t judge me until you have walked in my shoes”. It seems to be a prevailing attitude among people in our culture which carries an undertone of “do not question or hold me accountable for anything that I do because it is none of your business and who are you to say it is right or wrong”. I want to challenge this because I believe that this sort of posting is based in pride. Yes, it is true we do not know what others have gone through but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be humble and encourage them where they are at to be a better person. We should know that Christ died for their sins as He died for our own and want to encourage others to move towards Him. It takes humility to love someone enough to speak the truth in love to them and encourage them towards righteousness when we see destructive behavior. The eternal perspective of humility wants to restore all to Christ and will lay down itself to exhort.
Remembering that all authority is only in its place as God has allowed it to be in power (Romans 13:1, John 19:11) is a helpful reminder for me to keep an eternal perspective this election year. It is easy and tempting to lash out about our government in a time when we are surrounded with negative ad campaigns and brutal bashing of candidates. But when praying about this election we must be in humility and realize that God is in control, not the President of our country. Only God can change things and change hearts. Having an attitude of humility towards our fellow countrymen (republicans and democrats alike!) should be a priority to all Christians.
Author Jack Frost described the word “submit” as “get underneath and push up”. He said when we submit to authorities we are coming underneath of them and pushing up to support them. It is a true act of service and humility to “come under and push up” to support authorities (church, work, ranked) and elders. I think often of aging parents or church members in this regard and being respectful of them. Coming under and pushing up, what does that look like? Visiting our elders, providing healthy meals for them, spending time with them, honoring their life and memories by listening, discussing our lives with them and asking their counsel which aged wisdom provides.
Even submitting to their authority when we can think of a better way is “coming under and pushing up”. I can remember helping my grandmother around her home before she passed away and being so angry because she would want me to go about certain tasks her way and not the way I knew to do them. She would stand guard over me and watch me cleaning her house and pick apart each thing I did that wasn’t in accordance with her standards. In the end the same results would be there but she had her own means of getting things done which I was to follow. After an argument I realized that for whatever reason she had, she needed it to be done the way she had always done it. It gave her peace, gave her assurance, and gave her the sense of independence she had lost by needing me there in the first place. Getting under and pushing up: doing it her way in grace.
Will those around us enjoy our heavenly perspective of humility? Will they appreciate that we choose not to engage in arguments about small theological differences (Romans 14)? What about the loved one you approach clothed in humility with charity that refuses it? Have you ever spoken the truth in love and humility only to be outright rejected and treated badly? God sees these things and He will make them right for you in the end. He will give you the promotion when you properly submit at work; He will give you wisdom when you submit to your church elders. When we walk in true humility and do not exalt ourselves but rather exalt Jesus we are in line for a blessing, whether here or in heaven.
…he cares for you. V.7
“Cast your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you” (v.7) is also a promise. We do not pour our hearts out to God and tell him our needs only to receive a shrug from him. Each time we give him our worries or our needs we can be assured that God not only hears them but he cares. This is one of the most basic promises that humankind needs. A child that approaches a parent with needs and worries when they are hungry or cold expects their parent to hear and meet the needs without hesitation. We have that same relationship with our heavenly Father. In our earthly relationships we have all been let down and have felt we have had to “take matters into our own hands” but with God we do not have to resort to Plan B. He has and promises to work everything together for our good (Romans 8:28).
In my own life I have always believed that God would provide for me but it has only been recently that I have started to realize that he also cares for me. We do live in a fallen world and bad things do still happen to good people but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care.
It doesn’t mean that he won’t fix it or heal us. It does mean that we have to turn to him and give our anxieties to him and give him the reins so he can steer.
The next verse (v.8) reminds us that we are in the midst of a spiritual battle. Just as when we are baptized we are committing an act of war or declaration of which side we stand on (the side of Jesus), in casting our worries to Jesus we are also allowing Christ to win that battle for us. While the war has been won (John 19:30) we are still partakers as the fullness of this becomes manifest on earth. Where there is pride, the Devil will seek a foothold in our lives and hearts and we must resist by staying in the grace and provision of the promises. He cares. Rely on Jesus, trust in Jesus, and adhere to Jesus.
…will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. V.10
Since we are called to his glory and not made for this fallen world (v. 10) we are only temporarily here to endure the hardships of this life. Suffering for a short time as we push through some of the harsh realities of life, sickness, and death on this earth we have the promise of being restored.
Again, keeping our eyes on the eternal perspective of God’s grace we are being made strong, firm, and steadfast each day. All the things we see in our material world will pass, when we serve one another and get dirty we can clean up again, when we submit to our elders and authority in humility we will be exalted. But what will not change in these processes is the refining and strengthening in Christ that will happen. The character and depth that will be gained as we walk each day hand in hand with Christ being restored.
There are times that I wish my life had been much easier than it has been. I wish I had two legs and a healthy body so that I could have easily pursued an education and career path to provide a better living for my husband and I. There are times I wish that I hadn’t been forced to work as a young person but had been solely supported by my parents while pursuing education. There are times that I wish all of our relationships were tension free and easy. But I know that each of those things ingrained character and appreciation of Jesus in me that I would not have had otherwise. I learned work ethic and patience. I have learned persistence and endurance. The Lord has taught me true love and leaning on Him for provision. I’ve learned true service and am still learning humility!
To resent some of these processes is easy to do. Sure, I sometimes wish that Jesus would come back in a hurry so that my pain would be gone, my sicknesses healed instantly, and peace on earth restored. Yet we have this time to learn and grow as people in true freedom. To choose Jesus in the midst of a chaotic world is the greatest choice we can ever make. And our choice will never return void. His promises are more than enough.