“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5, AV)
I read a classified advertisement in the local for-sale shopping paper. It stated, “Encyclopedia Britannica set for sale. My teenagers already know everything.” I thought it was quite funny at the time. However, thinking back on it, I was young once also. Just like a teenager, I also thought I knew everything. It was only as I aged that everything changed. The school of hard knocks came in to affect my thought processes. I realized that I did not know everything. However, I thought I was very close to brilliance.
The issue with being a know-it-all is one of pride. It is a facet of the world system. John wrote, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16, AV). When the Lord saved me, I became aware of these three problems. It was much easier to recognize and deal with the lusts of this system than the issue of pride.
While pride is an issue, one of the greatest struggles with it for many Christians is that of spiritual pride. Of course, perhaps I am speaking only of myself, but I do not think so. As a young believer, I experienced the excitement of my relationship with Jesus. I read the Bible through from cover to cover in less than a year. I read all kinds of books about the Christian faith, evangelism, and the church. I took a correspondence course from Moody Bible institute. The problem was that in my immaturity this increase of knowledge became a snare.
I was quickly placed in a position of leadership in the church as an elder. This was much too soon for I ended up confronting and questioning the pastor’s leadership. Moreover, I did not handle this in a way filled with grace. In fact, it was as form of insubordination. You know it is true that you reap that which you sow, and often in a different season. After being called to the pastoral ministry, I experienced the exact same thing that I did to that first pastor. I had some younger than me who determined that their way was better and undermined my authority in the church.
This is the problem that Peter addressed to the churches. The younger are to submit to the elder. The reason for this is that the elders have experience and the wisdom that comes with it. It still amazes me that young seminary graduates with very little experience can be so head strong, rejecting the advice of those who have been in the ministry for many years. Granted, each person is personally responsible to the Lord and in one sense we are all equal in Christ. Yet, the Lord has established order for those in His church.
Again, the main problem is pride and it is the most difficult malady to conquer. It is a deadly snare and disruptive to the mission of the church. In fact, Peter wrote that God resists the proud and haughty person. When I think back, I believe it is true and that we who are proud experience this resistance. God stands up against the proud, but gives abundant grace to the humble.
What is the solution to this problem of pride? It is to clothe ourselves with humility. We can never be so humble that we are proud of it. If we boast of our humility, we are anything but humble. So, we must confess this weakness and mourn over it. We must do it over and over again for in our lowly estate, God will grant to us more and more grace.