It’s so easy to walk away and follow our own way, but God calls us to resist temptation and stand firm in Jesus.
1 Peter 5
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it overthose entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
12 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.
13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Life has a bad habit of being difficult at times. We are faced with exams, changing relationships, difficult bosses and teachers, and having to choose one ice-cream flavour.
Now while we are often encouraged to face these problems, to be brave and solve them, is it not tempting to hunt for an easier path? Why choose one ice-cream flavour, when you could choose two? While that solution is certainly easier, and may seem like a good idea at the time, we may go on to regret it later.
Just like every aspect of life, today’s issue (that of choosing ourselves over God, not that of ice-cream!) comes up often in our walk of faith. Our job is to live for and glorify God. But that is not always easy. Not at all.
We have to be brave, when we want to be scared. We have to be humble, when we want to be proud. We have to be selfless, when we want to be selfish. We have to sacrifice.
And while it may be easier to follow the our path, it’s not what God, through Peter, calls us to do. In verse 6, Peter not only tells us to submit ourselves to God’s plan, but also that God will in protect us on that journey. In verse 5 we’re called us to humble ourselves, and God will lift us up. He tells us to cast our anxiety onto God, because he cares for us.
Now here’s the thing: it’s not a simple thing to do, to humble ourselves, to hand over what makes us worry, what makes us hurt. It seems like a simple and painless solution, to slide off the rails and just live our own lives, by our own rules. It’s difficult to live God’s way. But Peter lets us know that it’s worth it.
Verses 6-10 outline the paths we should take, and despite the challenges we face because of them, the reasons why we should choose them.
Despite the backlash we might get for being a Christian, we’re told to stand firm in the knowledge that we are not alone in the struggle. We’re told to clothe ourselves in humility, as God shows favour to the humble. We’re told to turn our backs to devil and to stand firm in the faith, knowing we are safe. And perhaps most importantly, we’re told to remember that despite the suffering, hurt, struggles and worry we have to face, there is something much greater coming – something perfect and holy and beautiful. And we are invited to join the celebration.
Because Jesus breathed and bled for us and we are safe in that reassurance.
Head: Do you think that there could be areas in your life where you don’t even realise that you walk away from Jesus? How would you find them?
Heart: Do you ever feel angry at Jesus’ claims on your life? Why? How can you start to address this?
Hands: Think of a concrete action (a reminder, a habit) that will help you to stand firm, and to pray when you’re tempted to walk away.
Prayer: Father, please help us to be honest about our temptation to go our own way and swear allegiance to ourselves as the ruler of our life, rather than standing firm in Jesus. Forgive us for giving in to this temptation. Help us to be serious about you, and the consequences of walking away. Help us to stand firm by the power of your spirit. Amen.
A song to listen to: The Stand
Maddie Pryde and Geoff Pryde