|LIVING WITH ATTITUDE
1 PETER 5:1-11
Series: Living For Heaven In A Hell Bound World - Part Eight
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
October 28, 2012
Please join me at 1 Peter 5 - starting at verse 1: So 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: shepherd 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; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Verse 5: Likewise, 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. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
Verse 8: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And 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. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
This morning is our last look at 1 Peter and living for Heaven in a Hell bound world. To put some of what we’ve looked at over the past couple months - to put that into some perspective - Peter’s letter breaks down into 4 basic sections.
The first section focuses on our new life in Christ. In a Hell bound world - God’s grace changes everything - the very purpose and trajectory of our lives.
Peter’s second section focuses on our behavior. As those who are saved by God’s grace we need to live differently in this world. Because of God’s grace we can live differently - righteously - living God’s way even in a world bound for Hell.
Third - Peter encourages us - because when we live life God’s way we become targets. We will be persecuted. We will suffer. But when we stand firm in our faith - living life God’s way - God uses us to bring people to Him - to salvation in Jesus.
This morning we’re coming to Peter’s last section where Peter is going to instruct us to live with an attitude of humility. Point being that in a Hell bound world without an attitude of humility were toast.
In verses 1 to 4 Peter focuses on Humility By Example. Let’s repeat that together. “Humility by Example.”
Peter writes - verse 1 - “I exhort the elders among you...”
In the Old Testament an elder was a grey haired guy or more likely a bald guy who headed up the tribes and communities of God’s people. They’d been around long enough that they were recognized for their maturity - their wisdom and knowledge.
In the New Testament that qualification - of wisdom and knowledge - was passed forward along with the added qualification of spiritual maturity. Someone with genuine maturity in their relationship with Jesus.
The New Testament describes an office of the church - overseer or bishop - which was a position of ministry that elders were appointed to. Elders in the church were men who had been raised up by the Holy Spirit - and whose calling was confirmed by spiritually mature men in the congregation - so that those who fit the qualifications of elder were set apart to serve in the office of overseer or bishop.
In verse 1 - Peter addresses elders - spiritually mature men who were the recognized spiritual leaders of the church.
Peter addresses these elders first “as a fellow elder.”
Peter could have addressed these elders top down. Peter - Apostle of Jesus - one of the apostles - did you all hear apostolic authority in that? Peter could have hit them with a command - “Thus saith Peter - Live this way.” But, he’s a fellow elder. Peter places himself on the same level as these local church leaders.
Then Peter describes himself as “a witness of Christ’s suffering.” To be a witness means that you had to be able to testify - to witness - from first hand experience. Which is true of Peter. He was an eyewitness. Saw first hand - because he was there - saw Jesus’ arrest - trial - the beatings - the scourging - the brutal way Jesus was treated - saw Jesus being crucified - saw Him die - horribly.
Peter saw first hand the suffering of Jesus even as he denied his association with Jesus. Remember that? “I don’t know Him.”
Then Peter says that he’s also a partaker in the glory that’s going to be revealed. Peter also spent time with the resurrected Jesus. Knew our Lord’s forgiveness. Experienced a restored life. Watched Jesus ascend into heaven. Was told that Jesus was returning.
The word “partaker” in Greek is “koinonia” - fellowship. By God’s grace - Peter shares the same destiny as those he’s writing to. They’re on the same ministry team. They serve the same Lord together.
Grab the humility in how Peter introduces himself.
In verse 1 to 4 Peter is going to lay out two principles of leadership in the church - principles that apply to elders - to pastors - to anyone who is in a leadership role in the a congregation. His first principle is this: Pride In Our Position Must Be Absent. Which Peter demonstrates in how he introduces himself.
Long ago in a church far far away - there was a small bulletin board in the office area of the church. I mean small - maybe 3 x 4. This bulletin board - that was right in the entrance to the office area where visitors would see it - it was being used to display information about stuff totally unrelated to what was going on in the church, or God for that matter. Some of us had the bright idea that that bulletin board might be more useful if it had information about what was going on in the church.
I was delegated the opportunity of asking the two ladies who had years previous been given the position of oversight - the responsibility for maintaining that bulletin board - to ask them if we might supply them with some information they could display there. Which led to several meetings and some very terse and ungodly conversations and attitudes and eventually these two ladies - after stirring up quite a ruckus - they never came back to the church.
Bottom line: That was their position - their bulletin board - and I and everyone else could just… well you get the picture.
Give us a position - whatever it is - even a small little bulletin board - and it is way too easy to start playing mind games with ourselves - to get ourselves messed up over our little corner of the kingdom.
Way too easy for someone in church leadership to get puffed up with pride. Right? Church leadership means speaking and serving on behalf of God. Often that means being up front - addressing large groups of people - or it could be teaching a class - maybe a handful of people. Any ministry position - up front or behind the scenes - can easily devolve into my territory and my ministry and what I’m doing for God.
Especially with pastors - who are often held in high regard. Pastors are trusted. People make major decisions in their lives based on what pastors teach. That can play with a person’s pride - a person’s ego. Can lead to arrogance - to disaster.
Peter has a significant position in the church. He’s revered - even today. Yet, Peter is totally lacking pride in his position.
Peter’s second principle comes in verse 2. “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you.” Principle number two: A Shepherd’s Heart Must Be Present.
Who’s flock is it? God’s. We’ve got to remember that. Its His flock not ours. Its His ministry not ours. Pastors - and those in leadership - we’re the under-shepherds.
Peter writes that these shepherds are to exercise oversight - which has the idea of guiding and guarding the flock. Kinda like a sheep dog - running around keeping the sheep moving together and guarding against predators.
But we do that as under-shepherds. The flock is God’s. The ultimate Shepherd is the Good Shepherd - Jesus. He needs to be our inspiration - our example - the one we’re all following after together. All of us in leadership - pastor - council member - worship leader - AWANA listener - whatever leadership role God calls you to - we need to be following Him.
Do you hear humility in that? Where we do what we do and why we do it is all about God - not us. A shepherd’s heart is focused on God not self.
Peter gives us three descriptions of what that looks like in real time. First - verse 2 - Peter writes that we are to serve “not under compulsion, but willingly.” Serve Willingly.
Compulsion means we have to do it. Which sometimes ministry is. Doing what needs to be done simply because it needs to be done. But the heart of a shepherd serves willingly - even when it means just grinding away at the nitty gritty stuff. Willing to do what God would have us do simply because God wills us to do it.
This may sound strange. But,
sometimes serving God is the only motivation to do
what we do.
The second attitude is eagerness. Verse 2 - “not for shameful gain, but eagerly.”
Shameful gain is all about greed. Fleecing the flock for funds. Flogging the flock for obedience. Flaunting before the flock for accolades. Shameful gain is all about what the flock can do for me - rather than what we can do to serve the flock.
Someone who goes into ministry as a profession - professional pastors - they’ve totally missed the point. The bottom line of ministry isn’t about degrees and resumes and popularity - but about a heart sold out to God.
Eagerly is all about readiness - enthusiasm which springs from the heart - a response to the God who’s called us to this. An eagerness to serve - sometimes at great personal cost. Self-sacrificial zeal.
Third description - “not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” In one word: Service.
Do you remember when Jesus’ aunt came and knelt down in front of Jesus and asked Jesus if her two sons, James and John, could sit at Jesus’ right and left in Heaven. Jesus asked them, “Are you able to drink from the cup that I’m to drink?” Meaning His upcoming suffering and death. They said, “Sure, we can do that.” And the other disciples got all bent out of shape - as if somehow they had greater humility. Probably they were upset that they hadn’t thought of it first.
Jesus launches off into a teaching about how the rulers of the Gentiles dominated over those who were under them. They’re all about position and authority and being honored and demanding respect. Top down authority.
Jesus - in contrast says this about true Godly leadership, “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:20-28)
Do you think Jesus ever got tired of putting up with the disciples? With their egos and their constantly not getting what He was teaching them. Like God got tired of putting up with Israel in the wilderness. No matter what He did for them it wasn’t good enough.
Jesus wrestled with this. Remember the Garden of Gethsemane? Imagine the struggle of will - self verses obedience. “Not My will but Thine.” Then on the cross - the submission - the humbling - the obedience to the Father - even when Jesus could have ended the whole thing with a word and none of us - none of human history exists. Instead - the greatest dying for the least of us
What does it mean to be without pride in our position and to have the heart of a shepherd? It means willingness - eagerness - service - we’re fellow learners - sharers - partners in the same work.
Going farther with that - verse 4 - When the chief Shepherd appears - meaning Jesus - you will receive the unfading crown of glory - which is all about seeing the big picture of what all this service is about - trusting God - focusing on God. We serve God who rewards us with what’s coming - not the ego bending stuff of today.
Ministry way too often is really really hard work. Ministry - serving the body of Christ - would be a piece of cake if it wasn’t for the body of Christ. Let’s be honest. We all are messy people.
Sometimes it gets easy to think that somehow we’re sacrificing a whole lot to serve God. We start thinking about how much of our time and talent and treasure we’re investing in what goes on around here. And we start thinking: “Why am I the only one sacrificing? Why don’t other people step up to the plate? Why does it always seem like people look to me to step in and do something? This is just so not worth it.”
Hear me. I’m not just talking about myself as a pastor. If you’ve served in the body long enough you’ve had times when you’ve thought stuff like that. Let’s be honest. We all have times when our egos get messed with.
But, really - who are we serving? What are we sacrificing?
If everything we have and are is because of God and God our creator owns it all anyway and the very fact that we’re here is because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us. And God is the ultimate arbitrator and rewarder of what we do here and now and all this is about what God is doing in us and through us according to His purposes and for His glory. Which is what we believe? Yes?
Then if its all His and its all about Him then what exactly of ours are we sacrificing?
Peter points us to Jesus. He’s our example and He’s our rewarder. When times get tough focus on Jesus. When serving is unbearable focus on Jesus. When we get bent out of shape and start focusing on ourselves - focus on Jesus.
That’s the example of humility that we need to follow. That Peter lived by. Lead with humility. Focus on God not self. That mean’s that everything we are and do needs to be about Jesus.
Let’s go on. Verses 5 to 10 focus on Humility by Choice. Let’s say that together. “Humility by choice.”
In verse 5, Peter writes: “Likewise, you who are younger.”
Let’s be careful. When Peter writes to those who are younger he’s writing to those who are… younger.
“Likewise” - meaning just like the elders are to conduct themselves with humility - those who are younger are to conduct themselves in humility as well.
“Younger” - is the Greek word “neoteroi” which has the word “neo” in it. Think The Matrix - “new” or “young” - “youthful”.
The way that Peter uses the word it has the idea of someone who is younger physically - maybe a little wet behind the ears in maturity - in knowledge - in experience - and especially spiritually younger - maybe even someone who is new in their faith. Someone who is younger in the congregation who is going to need to choose to be humble and submit to the leadership of the congregation - specifically the elders.
Which for someone who is younger - that’s not easy. Because it is amazing how much we know when we’re younger. And give someone a little bit of Bible college knowledge or a seminary degree and it is amazing the insight and experience that young person brings to the table. I know this because there are few pastors - really long ago in churches really far away that - coming out of seminary - I know I tortured with my great intellectual learning and prowess.
There is no substitute for having been around the block a few times. Young people - even though they do bring a lot to the table and they need to be respected for what God is doing in them and through them - young people need to learn the humility of subjecting themselves to their elders.
Looking around at our culture that kind of respect is missing. Humility and respect are not modeled well. Especially if you’re a teacher - you see this among the younger generations - the lack of respect for authority - for elders.
Submission means things like listening to the counsel of your elders. Be open to their correction. Accept their decisions without disrespecting them. Respect their experience and what they’ve learned about following Jesus through life - for their number of trips around the block. Watch their lives and follow them when they’re following Jesus.
Peter goes on - younger ones are to clothe themselves with humility.
Clothe yourself in Greek is a word that means to put on a garment that’s tied - like an apron with apron strings that get tied..
Maybe Peter had in mind the night Jesus was betrayed - the last supper with the disciples. Jesus purposefully gets up from the meal - purposefully takes off His outer garments - purposefully picks up a towel and ties it around His waist. Clothes Himself with a towel. Pours water into a basin and begins to wash the disciples’ feet - including Judas’ - including Peter’s - both of whom turned against Jesus.
The greatest of Master serving the servants - even knowing their flaws - their failures and imperfections. The spiritually older stooping down and washing the feet of the spiritually younger. (John 13:1-20)
Jesus - tying that towel on - He even looks like a servant. That’s humility. That’s our example - to choose humility as Jesus choose humility. That’s what submission looks like.
That’s a choice that requires purposeful action - to tie on humility like a garment. A choice to willfully humble ourselves - to place oneself under the authority of someone else.
To support his point Peter paraphrases a saying that’s found several places in the Bible. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
God can certainly humble the proud. Pharaoh in the hardness of his heart - opposes God - and God takes out Pharaoh’s gods, his economy, his military might - just reduces Pharaoh to nothing. Nebuchadnezzar stood on his balcony basking in his accomplishments - praising himself. God reduced him to the status of an animal to teach him just Who really is the God.
But God is also hugely gracious to the humble. Joseph suffers at the hands of his brothers - stays faithful to God - stays humble - and God raises him up. Daniel suffers unjustly - stays faithful - stays humble - and God raises him up.
Point being: God takes this whole idea of humility very seriously and so should we. Elder or younger - God expects humility of His servants. God blesses His servants when they’re humble. So choose humility.
Starting in verse 6 Peter gives us three examples of what that choice of humility looks like in real time.
In verse 6 Peter instructs us; “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God”
Whose hand? God’s hand. Humility before others begins with our humility before God. In the Old Testament the “hand of God” represented discipline and deliverance.
Humbling ourselves under God’s hand means accepting whatever comes from God. Things are hard. Things are easy. “You give and take away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
We’re not trying to manipulate things - hurrying things along - playing politics in the church - trying to get people and things to conform to our timetable - our understanding of things.
God knows our heart. He knows what He’s blessed us with. He knows what we bring to the congregation - to the ministry - to our family or our school - where we work.
Humble yourselves - trusting God - so that at the proper time - at the time of God’s choosing and in God’s perfect way - Peter writes, “God will exalt you.”
If we’re exalting ourselves then we’re at the place where God is going to humble us. If were humbling ourselves before God then we’re at the place where God will use us. God will move and He will lift you up. God will use you.
Let God be God and let God work.
Peter goes on in verse 7 - next real time example. “Casting all your anxieties on Him - why? Because He cares for you.”
Anxiety is the first time you sit in the right hand seat and your teenager is driving the car. Or you’re driving the car with your parent saying things like: “Slow down.” “Did you check your mirror?” “Don’t follow so close.”
We have this illusion that somehow we have control over things and when we feel like we don’t we get all stressed out. Like everything working out okay depends on us - what we do next. We think we know how things should be and we start telling God what He should do and how He should do it. And all we do is get more tense.
God isn’t our co-pilot like we’re in control and He’s dependent on what we do next. God doesn’t need us to be His co-pilot to help Him run the universe. He knows what He’s doing. God in His sovereignty is the only One who has control of anything - in fact everything.
Peter instructs us to humble ourselves and let go of our little illusion of control and “cast” - or put all of what we’re getting stressed out about - to put all that on God.
Why? “Because He cares for you.”
In the real time world that Peter was living in Peter is about to get crucified. The people he’s writing to are about to be persecuted. Many are going to die - horribly. What are we loosing sleep over?
Psalm 55:22 says this: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
What we’re anxious about doesn’t mean that God has lost control of His creation. Looking at it from our “We know how the universe should be run” perspective we might be getting stressed out. But all that doesn’t mean that God has lost it. All that doesn't mean that God cares for us any less. It just gives us reason to trust Him more. Even through the worst of life God still cares for us. Even in death God is still sovereign.
Under the mighty hand of God - cast your cares on Him. In humility we need to surrender ourselves to Him and His plan for our life.
Then - coming to verse 8 - Peter writes that we are to Take Satan Seriously.
Peter writes, “Be sober-minded” - which means stay calm - don’t panic - use your brains in how you respond to this.
Peter writes, “Be watchful” - which literally means “wake up!” The word is used for waking the dead. Which is sometimes what its like when we’re trying to wake someone up. You ever get woken up from a deep sleep? Kinda disorientating. Isn’t it? Takes a while to figure out what’s going on.
Stay calm. Stay alert. Why? “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.”
Stay with me. Little bit of a word study. “Roaring” has the idea of howling. The kind of sound an army makes as it charges - coming over the hill - on the run - crossing the field of battle - flags waving - swords brandished. A blood curdling yell that’s made to invoke fear - terror - in the hearts of their enemies. The word “prowl” literally means to walk around.
Picture Satan wandering around the world howling trying to invoke fear in those who hear him. Why? So that he can devour them. Literally, swallow them up.
Verse 9 - “Resist him - how? Firm in your faith.”
Read Revelation - chapter 12 - chapter 20 - read how all this ends. Satan is a defeated adversary. He knows his time is short. Jesus is victorious on the cross. In the end Satan gets toasted - roasted forever in the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 12:7-17; 20:11-15)
Grab this: Satan’s howling is a cry of desperation.
Our victory in Jesus is behind what Paul writes to the Ephesians: “Be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.” - “Take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:10,16).
James puts that truth this way: “Submit yourself therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
Which is what Peter is getting at. To resist - standing firm in our faith - means that we’re not standing in our arrogance thinking that we have what it takes to resist. Humble ourselves and stand by faith in Jesus.
We don’t need to be afraid of Satan. But we do need to take him seriously. To not underestimate his ability to inflict great harm. To inflict great pain and suffering in this world - even in the lives of believers. Peter says that our siblings in Jesus are suffering in other places of the world. That’s Satan’s doing. Its going on today.
Satan seeks to use all that to deceive us - to bring fear to our hearts - to tempt us to trust ourselves and not God. We need to be sober-minded and awake so that in our arrogance we don’t play into Satan’s paws.
Verse 10 is a promise: After you have suffered a little while - there is an end point - the God of all grace - who has called us - called us - to His eternal glory in Christ - forever with Him without end - God Himself will what? God will restore us. God will confirm us. God will strengthen us. God will establish us.
Living for Heaven in a Hell bound world - if we live for ourselves we’re toast. Lion food. Live in humility before God - before others - and God will lift us up - will use us for His glory - will establish us forever with Him. “To God be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
General reference: Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on James, 1 and 2 Peter - Zondervan, 2010
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.