The Spiritual Chain of Humility
In the same way that church leaders must accept the authority of the Lord Jesus (1 Peter 5:2-4), younger men should submit to their leaders. Young and energetic men often feel an urge to steal power or influence from their elders: but that is a fleshly impulse, encouraged by the Evil One. Peter himself had to be rebuked for countermanding Jesus’ prophetic words (Matthew 16:21-23), so he wrote gently and with personal humility. Those who are truly spiritual will want to accept the authority that God has placed over them.
The same applies to everybody in the church; there is no virtue in proud assertions or self-seeking. Submission is the watchword of faith (Ephesians 5:21). Those who claim to serve the Servant King should want to serve others in the fellowship (Matthew 20:26-28); to lift them up and to seek their good. Peter saw the trail of pride over the early churches threatening to destroy the immature fellowships; and alas it is all too common today. The way of the world is to crush the weak. But the way of the cross is to raise the weak by self-sacrificial service.
It is essential to crush our personal pride. But that is not easy without realising how opposed God is to proud people. He does not applaud them, encourage or even tolerate their attitude. Yes, He is gracious and patient in teaching and urging them to humble themselves, but He will never honour their pride, which mocks His supreme authority. James, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus and co-leader with Peter of the church in Jerusalem, also quotes from Proverbs 3:34 urging the proud to humble themselves before God has to humble them (James 4:6-10). Clearly, pride was so big a problem in the church that Peter commanded leaders and their congregations to humble themselves (1 Peter 5:6).
God's opposition to arrogance does not stop at the church door. The principle extends to every area of life: God opposes the proud, wherever! It is true in the workshop and the ship, the hair salon and the airport. His anger is roused by pride on the building site and in the board room, as well as the home and the hospital. But, by contrast, He pours out His grace on all who humbly accept the authority He has placed over them (Romans 13:1-7). Test Him out: change your attitude to authority and see how much blessing and grace He will shower upon you to make you useful in His Kingdom in the ways He has chosen.
© Dr Paul Adams