Long Term Benefits
Peter had just told church leaders not to serve with reluctance or be greedy for money or power (1 Peter 5:2-3). Such behaviour is the way of the world, inspired by Satan's lies and is unprofitable to God's kingdom. To fight against those temptations and go against the grain of the world would be costly. Indeed, 1 Peter 5:1 says that suffering is the inevitable pattern for Christ-like leadership; yet there is a wonderful reward, a share in the glory of God.
The promise of sharing God’s glory was what Jesus prayed to His Father for us just before His crucifixion: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message … I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one … Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17:20-24). This long-term hope was the motivation for Peter’s endurance, and continues to be essential for every Christian in every generation (1 Peter 5:10).
However closely we seek to follow Jesus, the Bible recognises that devotion and duty alone will not sustain the leader who is weary or staggering under the pain of unjust suffering (1 Peter 2:19). We also need the assurance that the Lord, who sees everything, knows how to reward His faithful servants. Peter started his letter with the promise of an unfading inheritance reserved for those who stay true to Christ (1 Peter 1:3-9), and now he reminds the church leaders that they have an unfading crown of glory awaiting them. The ‘crown’ probably refers to the garland of leaves given in the original Olympic Games. That reward disappeared when the leaves faded, but the Lord’s glorious reward to us will never decay.
The Lord knows how much leaders still need that encouragement. They suffer in many different ways and may often be tempted to retreat to the side-lines of ministry (or even leave the field of battle): this word is for them. Keep on pressing on! That was also Paul's testimony and exhortation (Philippians 3:12-14). Every church member should also take special care to encourage their leaders rather than criticise (Hebrews 13:17). If God is preparing a crown for them, surely they are worthy of respect. But the cross always comes before the crown; it was the same for Jesus and it will be so for us too. But the great news is that the Chief Shepherd is coming, and will reward those who have completed the course well (2 Timothy 4:8). With such certainty, don't give up ... but press on to receive His reward!
© Dr Paul Adams