“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:6–7, AV)
I heard a story regarding a young preacher. He went to preach one of his first sermons. He had been trained in the seminary. He studied the passage deeply. He wrote out the sermon. The time came for him to present his masterpiece. He was confident and entered the podium with an exuberance, positive that his sermon would bless and challenge the hearts of people. However, he left the pulpit after the sermon feeling like he was powerless, that the sermon did not have its desired effect. An older gentleman who knew the young preacher saw his dejection and gave him some counsel. “If you entered the pulpit the way you exited, you would have exited the way you entered it.” The point was that the young preacher entered exalted but left humbled, but if he would have entered humbly, he would have left exalted.
This story illustrates the issue of pride in the ministry, but not only the ministry. It illustrates the problem of pride in life. God desires for us to maintain a humble perspective in life. This type of humility sees God high and exalted and that we are in desperate need for Him and His grace.
This verse tells us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. The interesting thing is the phrase “Humble yourselves,” is translated from a verb that is a passive voice imperative. It commands us to be humbled. We are to be humbled by the agency of God. So, how does this process of being humbled work? It is through our struggles.
Peter wrote of being humbled in the context of the tribulation that the readers were encountering. They were experiencing persecution and likely a variety of other issues. Religious persecution is something over which one has no control. It comes on a believer at the hand of another. It is one thing that will drive the true believer, not to compromise, but to his knees in total dependence upon God.
There are many other issues that we understand in the same way. A variety of physical illnesses are like this. The recent COVID pandemic was one. There was such fear that permeated our society over this. Especially prior to the vaccine people were in a panic, fearing death. There was a sense that we had no human control. Believers prayed during this time for those that caught this virus. The point is that God allows these things in our lives to humble us so that we will focus and depend on Him.
Yet, as believers, if we truly understand it, we must totally trust in God for every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, we are often like the young preacher I mentioned earlier who trusted in his education, his study, and homiletic skills, and still failed in his sermon. What was his problem? It was pride which results in self-sufficiency. In his case, God allowed him to fail on his own so that he would be humbled. God often uses our failures in life to humble us and cause us to depend upon Him.
The issue of pride, as I mentioned in a previous devotion, is something with which we all struggle. God works to develop humility in each one of us. It is a vital dependence upon Him and not in ourselves. We must realize that these circumstances that God allows us to experience in life have a purpose. Our struggles and failures should drive us to depend upon Him and in so doing, He will grant to us even more grace and exalt us in due season.