Are you a submissive person? The silent submission of the Savior (Isa 53:7) as He moved toward the cross is remarkable. One of the reasons it invokes admiration within us is that we know it isn’t our natural bent. We tend to be concerned with saving face, and we get upset when the decisions of others contradict what we see as being best. This reflects our self-centeredness and pride. Peter learned this very well. Peter was certain that someone of his spiritual caliber would never deny the Lord, yet he did. Earlier, he was adamant that the Lord was making a mistake in anticipating His death – he actually took the Christ, the Son of the living God, aside and rebuked Him. Peter’s problem was a self-centered mindset. The Lord said to Peter, “You are a hindrance to me” (Matt 16:21-23). Years later, Peter was happy to pass along what he learned: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1Peter 5:5, ESV).
The verse from which that statement is drawn commences with a common theme in 1 Peter – submission. He uses the word (submit/subject) six times. Earlier in the letter, Peter has told us to be submissive to government – not because it is a great government (Peter lived under Nero!) – but for the Lord’s sake. Then he writes that servants are to be subject to their masters. And that isn’t only to the Top 50 Employers, but even to the unrighteous. Reflecting God’s order in creation, Peter also encourages wives to be submissive to their husbands. Peter adds that this is truly beautiful clothing, bound to make a Christian woman and her faith attractive. He reminds us that angels, authorities, and powers are subject to the risen and ascended Christ. Now in chapter 5, Peter says, “you who are younger be subject to the elders.” You should study this verse for yourself to determine whether the elders here are older believers or the overseers in the church. Both concepts are Biblical. Either way, one thing is clear – young believers are to be submissive. And not just young believers. “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
We have a natural tendency to think that our perspective is superior. We have fresh ideas, an enthusiasm to improve the status quo, a higher education, an awareness of the culture, a passion for sincerity, and, sometimes we are right. But all the time, we are to be humble. We have an inclination toward thinking we should be served, but if honestly humble, we will recognize others deserve our service. This doesn’t give any believer carte blanche to demand submission from those around them. Learn from those among you who are true examples to the flock, true examples of submission to the chief Shepherd.
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” He gives grace to be patient, grace to be respectful, grace to submit. “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.” (1Peter 5:6-7).