God commands us to humble ourselves. Humbling ourselves before other people is not easy, but it seems fairly straightforward to apply. Serve them, be kind, do not be demanding, etc….
When it comes to humbling ourselves before God Himself, what does that mean? Peter had some very helpful advice he learned the hard way. Peter was not always known for his humility.
On the night Christ was betrayed, Christ told Peter that Satan had demanded to sift him like wheat. Christ spoke an encouraging and sobering word. “I have prayed for you…and when you turn again, strengthen your brothers.” The implication is You are going to fall but you’ll recover.
Peter’s response was filled with pride. He essentially said, “I got this. I will be fine.” What he literally did was look around at the other disciples and say, “Even though they all fall away I will not.” He did fall away that night. What did Peter learn in subsequent years about how to walk humbly with our God?
In 1 Peter 5:6 Peter tells us that a key ingredient in living humbly before God is to trust His timing. This means that we don’t have a heart that demands that God give us gifts when we think it is best. Imagine you really want a new job and are doing all you can to secure a promotion. For whatever reason, it has not come yet. A key to living humbly in your heart before God in that situation is to remind yourself that God’s timing is always perfect.
God controls everything. Once Peter fished all night and caught nothing. The next day Jesus told him to try again, and he got the biggest catch of his life. God knows where you are and what’s best for you. A humble person acknowledges this and is content to wait on God’s perfect timing. A proud person is demanding, arrogant, and wants good gifts and glory now.
A sinful lust for glory must have been part of what drove Peter to ignore Christ’s warning the night he was betrayed. He was filled with a false confidence that he was the best disciple ever. He was eager to prove it. Pride goes before the fall.
God promises to exalt His people when they humble themselves. How and when will He do it? He does not give us all the details we feel we need. Rather, we must trust His promises and His character.
Walking humbly with God through patience is a lot easier said than done. What do we do in the meantime? When my heart is troubled and concerned with hardship and suffering, how do I stay calm and trusting?
In the next verse, Peter says that a practical way to humble yourself is to cast your cares on Christ. This is a great way to describe prayer. Take the burdens out of your hearts and lay them at the feet of Jesus.
The only other time the Greek word for “casting” is used in the Bible is in Luke 19:35. It references Peter and other disciples taking off their cloaks and throwing them on the donkey for Christ to ride into Jerusalem.
This world will fill your heart with anxieties regularly. So, regularly, we must go to God in prayer, take these cloaks of cares off our backs, throw them on the King’s donkey, and let the Prince of peace ride away with them. Again, easier said than done.
What’s the key to a regular prayer life like this? You must believe He cares for you. You must have your heart focused on the character of an all-powerful, all-loving and all-wise God, who really does like you and wants what is best for you.
When a deep confidence of God’s care floods your heart, it becomes much easier to cast your cares on the Lord, leave them there, and trust Him to settle them in the best way in the best time. Praying like this daily is a key to true humility. Are you praying like this?
In the next two verses, Peter basically exhorts us to resist the temptation to give into any sin. But he puts it in the context of Satan prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for a Christian to devour. This is a powerful verse. At first glance we might suspect to find it set in the context of a passage about resisting sexual temptation or greed or something else serious and deadly to our faith.
But Peter knows the subtle pride; an attitude that thinks I got this. I don’t really need to pray is one of the most dangerous sins around. He had some dreadful personal experience.
So much of true humility has to do with submitting to God’s will regardless of what you feel like. One of the deepest roots of all sin is our pride, our belief that we know what’s best for us. This was a huge part of Adam and Eve’s original sin in the garden. “I know God said don’t eat the fruit, but it looks good. And it should make us wiser. So, what’s the big deal?” The rest is history, a dark history. Pride goes before the fall.
The greatest example of humility before God of all time was Christ. He didn’t want to go to the cross. He seemed to have no idea how long the wrath would last as He hung there. But He remained patiently though He could have called angels to rescue Him. He prayed His cares to the Father He knew cared deeply for Him although it certainly didn’t look or feel that way. And He stayed. He obeyed for us in our place.