Thursday, April 13, 2023

2023.04.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Peter 5:6–11

Read 1 Peter 5:6–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What are all Christ’s sheep to do (1 Peter 5:6)? Under Whose hand are they to humble themselves? What sort of hand is it? And what will God do for them? When? What is an essential part of humbling ourselves (1 Peter 5:7)? How much of our care are we to cast upon Him? How much of it is to be cast upon something else? What, in addition to the mightiness of His hand, prods us to cast upon Him every one of our cares? With what two commands does 1 Peter 5:8 begin? Watching against whom? Who is he to us? Where does he go? Like what does he go around? What is he seeking as he goes around? What does this imply about the identity of the ones who will be devoured? What else are the sheep to do to him (1 Peter 5:9)? How can they do this—steadfast in what? What do they know; about whom; where? Who is the answer to all of this—both to what we need to do and what the devil is trying to do (1 Peter 5:10)? What is God called here? How did each sheep end up in this situation? To what did God call them? Whose glory? What sort of glory? By Whom did God call them to His own, eternal glory? Through what will we go, for how long, before we come to that glory? What four things is God doing for us in and through this suffering? What is the outcome of this being the way that we were called, that we walk, and that we will arrive (1 Peter 5:11)?

What is the key to pairing proper humility with proper confidence? 1 Peter 5:6–11 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that proper humility comes from an awareness of the mightiness of God’s hands, under which we humble ourselves, and proper confidence comes from awareness of the infinite care of Him upon Whom we cast our cares. 

The “mighty hand of God” in 1 Peter 5:6 is the key to humility in the church. Lest elders be tempted to think too highly of themselves, let them remember that their lowliness is not first with respect to other sheep, but with respect to the Chief Shepherd. Thus, an elder may remember that he too is a sheep; for, it is none other than the mighty hand of God under which he is humbling himself! 

And let the rest of the flock, if they are in a true church, not be hindered from humility by the unworthiness of their elders. A true church preaches Christ as God the Son crucified and risen for sinners, and administers the sacraments as instructed under Christ, and employs discipline to guard against the denial of the gospel whether by false teaching or “Christians” who live unrepentantly and scandalously. 

So, though the undershepherds in true churches will be sinners, they are still appointed by the Chief Shepherd, and it is under His mighty hand that the flock humbles itself as it submits to the elders. Since it is God’s hand under which they humble themselves, and not the elders’ hands, the elders must require only what God requires and forbid only what God forbids. For, the submission that the flock gives to his oversight is not a humbling under the elder’s hand but God’s. And let the elder show this not only by the limited scope of his authority but also by the gentle manner in which he oversees a flock that belongs to God, not to himself. 

The Spirit then reminds us of the love that moves this mighty hand of God: “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” This reminder is especially needful for those who have a fearful and mistrusting tendency in their own hearts, and who may even have been wounded by elders in the past. The remedy for such reluctance and timidity is a clear view of the immeasurable love of God in which He cares for us. The apostle had seen the extent of this care as he personally witnessed “the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 5:1). He could never doubt that this One Who died in that way, under that wrath, cared for him. 

And you and I cannot doubt it either, dear reader. Did He love us so much then, only to have that love wane in our troubles? Did He go to the cross with all His heart, then heartlessly assign you the particular elders that you have in a true congregation of His church? How great is the care of the Lord Jesus Christ! 

And let the reminder of His love protect us from yet another danger: casting our cares upon the undershepherds themselves. We will be able to see love of the Savior in faithful elders, but we must be sure to have our comfort in His love, rather than theirs. The better they love us, the more we will be tempted to cast our cares in some measure upon them. But 1 Peter 5:7 will not permit this. They are not the Chief Shepherd. They did not die for our sins. There is an infinitely greater Care moving the mighty hand of God. Humbling yourself under the mighty hand of God includes “casting ALL your care upon Him.” For thousands of years, He has been carrying brothers through the sufferings of this world, from both within and without the church (1 Peter 5:9). 

As we considered on Monday, this structure for the protection of the flock was His plan. And that which He has planned in His wisdom, He makes effectual by His power. He is “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10). The suffering is only for a little while (verse 10). His perfecting, establishing, strengthening, and settling of believers is forever and ever, and will bring Him glory for unending ages (1 Peter 5:11).  In His great kindness, He devised this plan for glorifying His mighty hand. You can trust Him. Humble yourself under that hand; cast all your cares upon Him.

By what regular actions and mental habits do you keep yourself mindful of God’s mighty hand? Do you seem to have more difficulty humbling yourself under that hand’s power or casting your cares upon that hand’s love? Upon whom are you tempted to cast your cares instead of the Lord?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for loving us and revealing that love in Christ, so that we may know not only the power of Your mighty hand but the care of Your mighty hand. Forgive us for when we shrink from submitting to those whom You set over us, because we forget that it’s under Your mighty hand that we are humbling ourselves. Forgive us for when we cast our cares upon anything or anyone other than You. Even these requests, these cares, we cast upon Your Spirit in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, AMEN!

ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH517 “I Know Whom I Have Believed”

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