Originally Published Jan 1997
(All scripture is taken from the NIV)
1 Peter 5:5b-11 All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 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. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Peter has always been my favorite character in the Bible. Just look at him! There he is standing strong, tall, proud, self-assured. A natural born leader. When Christ entered his life, Peter forsook all including his wife, family and his fishing business. He did the right thing and trusted Jesus. He even walked on water!
Of course, he did sink too! But that is part of why I have always liked Peter, he was a real person. He was a man who trusted Christ but early in his Christian walk had a lot of problems getting distracted by what was going on around him. He would take his eyes off of Christ and fail. He was walking on the water and then splash he looks at the waves instead of Jesus. He makes a great statement of insight on who Christ is and in the next breath takes his eyes off of that very Person and makes so blunderous of a statement Christ says, “Get behind me Satan.” Ouch! And then of course, even while he is watching the proceedings of his Lord’s trial he begins to also watch what else is going on around him and begins to worry for his own skin, denying Jesus three times. When he finally looks back to Christ, it tears him to shreds not only because of what he did but also because he knows Jesus knew what he had just done.
Peter, to all eyes must have looked like a failure. Yet we find him as the leader of the 12 apostles just 40 days latter and not soon after, he has the courage to be thrown in jail, get lashed with the whip, and at the end of his life, according to tradition, he was hung upside down on a cross because he didn’t feel worthy enough to hang on a cross in the same manner of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
When we read in 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” we can believe it because Peter had lived it. He knew what it was to fail due to anxiety and he knew what it was like to totally and absolutely rely on Jesus. He knew Christ Cares.
It is not always easy to cast our anxieties away. Peter understood the key, humility.
Proverbs 3, from which Peter most likely was loosely quoting in our passage, repeats this lesson over and over again. Peter knew from personal experience what it was saying,
Prov. 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Prov. 3:25 – Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.
Prov. 3:34 – He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.
As long as we rely on our own selves, we will never be able to cast away our anxieties. No matter how confident we may be in our own abilities, we know deep down that they are never sufficient to handle everything. As such, we can be nothing but anxious since we know that we will eventually fail. God finds us humorous when we proudly mock as if we will never fall for he knows that it isn’t a matter of when we will fall but if we can ever stand up. Not without His Power.
When Peter would cast out his net to catch fish, he would have been very careful not to get entangled in the net. In the same way, as we cast our anxieties on Christ, we have to make sure we do not get ourselves entangled in that net of anxiety. We do so by remaining humble before the Lord. The minute we try to take any control over that net, we will just get it all messed up and in the end, cause ourselves grief.
As we humble ourselves before God, acknowledging that He and He alone can “keep our feet from being snared” we can run, not just walk, but run, not fearing what may lie before us because we know that He is making our paths straight.
Peter also understood that casting our anxieties meant that there would be times when we would need to stand tough. Casting our anxieties isn’t throwing a blanket of protection around ourselves rather it is an attitude, a way of life which stands tough despite what may be going on around and to us.
Peter after Pentecost could have easily walked on the water with a hurricane going on around him. He had learned that the circumstances we find ourselves in do not matter. What matters is Christ. When he found himself in prison and then standing trial, he could state confidently that he would do what what right before God and take whatever consequences may come his way should those who opposed Christ do their worst. Peter wasn’t protected from the beating he received from the Sanhedrin but he could stand tough and rejoice because he trusted God and not his own way of thinking.
Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean that we have a life of ease. Rather, we know that as long as we are in the world, we will have to face the difficulties of being “not of this world.” Temptations will assail us. Persecution for our beliefs will come. And sin’s awful effects of sickness and death will still be able to touch us. Christian throughout the world must face these things. But when they do, we have the promise that God “himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
We of course, have to remember throughout this that it is by the power of God and not ourselves that we can do this. Again, humility is the key. For it is always, “To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
When Peter wrote those words, he knew from a life’s time of experience that they were true. But I believe he could have written them the day after Pentecost as well. The mighty empowering of the Holy Spirit enabled Peter to stand up to a mocking crowd on the day of Pentecost and preach a sermon that saw 3000 people turn their lives over to Christ in response.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit on that day brought boldness into a small band of men and women that was lacking just a few days earlier. That small group was soon faced with persecution and even the martyrdom of one of their leaders not many days latter. Where they could have been anxious about everything that faced them, instead they could turn everything they owned over to God and become a mighty army for the Lord.
I believe that it is this empowering of the Holy Spirit which both helps us stay humble before the Lord and enables us to face all that would otherwise overwhelm us. It is something that Peter would have assumed that his readers had understood and experienced. Without the Spirit, it is impossible for us to take our eyes off ourselves and our problems. With the Spirit and the power He gives us, we can easily cast our anxieties on Christ. One of the things Peter said on that day of Pentecost, we all need to continue to hear today. He told the crowd they they too could “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, and your children, and for those who are far off–for all whom the Lord will call.” As we accept this gift, we will be empowered to do great works for God, setting aside all fears of the day for, God Care for You.
This lesson was written by William Reveal. Jan. 1997
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