THE HUMILITY ENGINE OIL
Lord, Your people understand the value of submission.
Read 1 PETER 5:1–7
To the Elders and the Flock
5 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”[a]
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
a 1 Peter 5:5 Prov. 3:34
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jesus models it: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will ﬁnd rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29).
This ﬁnal chapter reads like a farewell speech. Perhaps Peter was sensing his coming martyrdom, but he knows it is important for the work to continue through the elders in these diaspora churches. He restates his two main themes: humility towards one another and resistance to the forces of evil, even in the face of suffering. He has a great love for these Jesus followers and longs to see them well cared for. The metaphor of shepherding, which both he and Paul (Acts 20:28) like to use, makes for a sobering goodbye. In Palestine the shepherd put his own safety aside to protect the sheep, even ﬁghting off wolves (John 10:11–15). He had to feed them, make sure they could get water and rest, and lead them to secure pastures. It was a heavy responsibility.
There is a poignancy found in Peter’s view of himself as a shepherd and commending this role to these elders. After the resurrection, when Jesus confronts Peter about his betrayal, he restores him by commissioning him again to “Take care of my sheep” (John 21:15–17). It empowers Peter to turn his life around and become the warrior needed to lead at Pentecost. If we falter in our walk with the Lord, it is reassuring that he knows all about it but wants to welcome us back into his service and renew our call.
Leadership is a serious responsibility which must be pursued freely, honestly and eagerly (2,3), but it does not work unless all members of the local assembly of believers heed Peter’s next instruction— submit to your leaders. This is not some hierarchical organizational chart but a general principle we saw in chapter 2—submitting humbly to one another in love. Humility is the oil that keeps an engine functioning. As in our cars, it enables abrasive parts to constantly rub up against each other and yet do their job.
As you look back on your life and see where you have come from, what keeps you humble?
Lord, place me under godly and competent leadership in my church, under leaders who will help point me to where I should go.