1 Peter 5:6-11
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
How are we to stand firm in God’s true grace? This, as I’ve said is Peter’s grand aim. He has written exclusively, as we’ll see in our final devotion with this single objective in mind. He wants each and every Christian to last the course and make it to the end.
I would say as with every age but especially in our day it certainly feels like we need to listen to him. We are living through not only such great economic, political and personal upheavals in the wake of this wretched on-going pandemic, but we also must continue with our costly battles for faithfulness in the world and even in our own Anglican communion. How are we, how are you going to stand firm?
Peter says today: one. Cast all your anxieties on him (v.7). We are not to be stoical, cynical or even silent about our sufferings. But we must be very careful with what we do with them. Peter knows how unwise and dangerous it is to harbour our own worries and griefs. It may even be he wants us to see that we are in fact being terribly proud by holding on to our anxieties. We might either think no one cares, or no one is able to help, or worst of all, that we can cope with them all by ourselves. This is the certain path to destruction. It does not offer any solid ground on which to stand at all. And so, Peter says, be humble. God’s hand is mighty. His heart is taken up with caring for you. So cast all your anxieties on him. The way in which we cast all our anxieties is also important. Peter wants us to dump our concerns with God and to leave them there. As we grow in humility we may indeed grow in our ability to do just this.
Two. Resist your fearsome enemy (v.8-9). Throughout our earthly journey we will have a great and frightening opponent to contend with. It is sheer stupidity to ignore this or pretend he is not as troubling as he is. Peter here compares him with a roaring lion. Perhaps he’s referring to the sounds that emanated from the coliseum. There is nothing tame, domestic or safe about such a predator, and our adversary, the devil, is intent on devouring us. In response we ourselves are to keep our heads not lose them, being sober minded and watchful. Yes, he is a real adversary and one we dare not take too lightly, but at the same time, he has already suffered a fatal defeat and can therefore be resisted, as indeed he is by so many of our fellow Christians around the world. Let us encourage one another then by recognising, yet resisting him.
Three. Keep the one who has called you constantly in view (v.10-11). To him be dominion forever and ever. This is our God. The God of all grace, who has saved us, sees and even uses our suffering for us, and will one day share with us his eternal glory in Christ. If you want to remain firm in his grace, then think deeply, think often, think gratefully about him. What endless comfort comes from Peter’s promise found here. God himself will, Peter says, restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. He has not given such a great undertaking to another. He will not gamble you and your future by asking anyone else to keep this promise. Peter says that God himself will do it. These early Christians needed to hear this. Faithful leaders everywhere need to hear this. Your brothers and sisters in Christ need to hear this. You need to hear this. Tired. Often misunderstood and maligned. Looking and feeling weak. Uncertain and unable to do anything about the present and the future.
Listen to these words:
‘After you have suffered but a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be dominion forever and ever’.
*NOTE: The final devotion for David Martin's 1 Peter series will conclude on Saturday, August 29, rather than Monday, August 31.
Merciful Lord, Grant your people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, and with pure hearts and humble minds to follow you, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.