In Humility, Trust God and Love Others (1 Peter 5:6-8)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, ⁷casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. ⁸Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. —1 Peter 5:6-8
In short, Peter calls us to turn from anxiety to trusting in God because He cares for us. It is in this context that we are freed up and therefore enabled to see other’s needs and care for them. Now, let’s back up and see a bit of the overall context that leads to such a statement.
Peter begins in 5:1-4 with an exhortation to the elders of the church. He calls them to “shepherd the flock” with a willing eagerness that not only serves the flock but is an example to them of what it means to care for and love others. Then in 5:5 he reminds those who are younger to humble themselves before their elders and then calls all to live in humility among one another re-stating Proverbs 3:34, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” This sets up verses 6-8 where Peter exhorts us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. Notice now the distinction between the proud and the humble; seeing the results of their way of living.
The proud trust in themselves and therefore do not believe that God cares for them (5:6), or at least believe that His care is insufficient to meet their needs. The proud therefore are focused on their needs, striving to meet them on their own effort. As they only focus on their needs, they place themselves in a selfish and vulnerable place. This is where the devil wants them. This is a place of anxiety which knows no bounds and stifles expressions of love which are being modeled for them by the elders of the church (5:1-4). The devil does not want anyone to trust in God or love and care for others. So he labors to keep us focused on us—the wide plains of anxiety.
The humble however are in a different place. They are alert to the schemes of the devil and they turn to God for help because they believe that He really does care for them. They rest their burdens upon him (Psalm 55:22) and are therefore enabled to turn and face the needs of others. The place of humility is the place of love and peace where a heart says, “God I trust in You to meet my needs and I will walk in peace. You alone can do this in my heart and as I walk with You. Please help me be a loving person who cares for others.” The way to kill anxiety and to guard against the schemes of the devil is to trust in God, resting all our burdens upon Him so we can love and care for others: walking the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:3).
Like all promises, it boils down to belief. Do I believe that God’s hand is mighty for me and that he is good to exalt me when he deems best and that he truly cares for me? By grace may I believe with you this day and keep believing.