I Peter 5:1-9
Casting All Care Upon Him
I would like to recommend at the end, Thomas Brook’s little book, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices. I know that many of you have this book and it was recommended here a couple of years ago, and the reason I’m advocating that book is because of our text in I Peter chapter 5. I’m going to read beginning at verse 1 and actually I’m going to end at verse 10, not at verse 9 as the bulletin suggests.
Amen. May God add His blessing to the reading of His holy and inerrant word. Let’s pray together.
Father we ask now for Your blessing. Be our teacher, instruct us, give us hearing and willing ears. May Your word dwell richly within our hearts by faith for Jesus’ sake, Amen.
Now we’re coming to an end of our studies in I Peter. We’ve seen that one of the primary purposes of this wonderful epistle of Peter is to prepare the people of God for what looks like an impending period of persecution and difficulty. I personally don’t think that that trial has yet begun. It may be two or three years away as Peter writes but it functions almost like a training manual for the people of God who are expecting, who are being told to expect a period of trial and testing. Hence, now in this fifth chapter Peter returns once more, for the fifth time, to the issue of suffering and trials, now exhorting the people of God to cast their burdens upon the Lord because He cares for us.
Now I want us to see three things here. First of all, before we do that there are some words in the opening four verses which I’m going to pass over very quickly which is an exhortation to the elders, the duties and responsibilities of the eldership. It stands to reason that if Peter is going to give an exhortation to the people of God as to how to face suffering that he should give a particular word to the leaders and elders of the church. They, above everyone else, must set the example of Christ-like response to the advent of difficulty and trial and I think that’s why Peter is addressing particularly the eldership here in the first four verses of chapter 5. He speaks about their calling, he mentions, notice some of the vocabulary: he calls them elders in verse 1, shepherds and overseers in verse 2. He talks about their disposition: they are to serve rather than exercise their lordship, their power over the people of God. They are to exercise their responsibility in a spirit of willing service to the people of God. And notice what Peter says in verse 4, especially as to what the elders, godly elders, Christ-like elders who are willing to serve and display a servant-like attitude when the chief shepherd appears: they “will receive the unfading crown of glory.” And if that isn’t an incentive for servant-like hearts amongst the elders, I don’t know what it would be.
I. Humility – do you have a proud
But I haven’t time to look at that this evening because I want us particularly to move on to what Peter has to say in the rest of this section. And he appears to be saying three things. In the first place he has something to say to us about humility. He addresses in verse 5 the young men and he says to the young men that they are to be subject to “your elders” the New American Standard says, the NIV says to those who are older, the more general way. And no doubt Peter is, you’re asking the question, why does he single out the young men, why not the young women, why not the older men, why not the older women? Of course Peter would never use the phrase “older women” you understand, but why is Peter singling out the young men? And perhaps the answer to that is that young men especially are prone to rebel and cast off the yoke of authority and that would certainly be in general terms, an indicator of the capacities of young men today and I suppose that that would have been an indicator of the capacity of young men in Peter’s day also.
But be that as it may, you notice that Peter immediately then goes on to say “and all of you.” All of you, young men in particular, but “all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humility is the key, the Christ-like attitude of humility. The humility that is spoken of, for example in that wonderful chapter 2 of Philippians where Paul exhorts, “Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus who thought it not robbery to be equal with God but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, the likeness of a man.” Have that disposition among yourselves, Peter is saying. Notice the way in which he puts it in verse 5: the verb that he uses “clothe yourselves with humility.” Isn’t that a graphic way of putting it? You know, clothes make a statement. Our pastor took his life in his hands in recent weeks and many, many of us thanked God for the courage that he had in addressing the issue of what we wear because it’s a crucial issue. Young women, young men, older women, older men – clothes make a statement and certain styles and certain clothes make statements that we do not want to have as the people of God. And one of the ways that we display our separation from the world and the spirit of the world is in the kind of dress code that we adopt as the people of God. Now Peter is listing that metaphor and he’s saying, “Clothe yourselves with humility,” put on humility so that when they see you, the statement that you are making is one of humility and one of submission and one of yielding to the authority of God and the order and the structure that God has established.
Of course Peter wants to say that because trial is coming. Peter wants to prepare the people of God for an impending period of difficulty, and if you have a proud heart, that trial is going to be all the more painful. The way to prepare yourself for trial is the spirit that says, “Lord, whatever You send, whatever You give, however You order my life it is fine with me because I want to live my life in obedience to You.” And a proud heart is the opposite of what Peter is wanting to inculcate amongst the people of God.
The first thing then that Peter talks about here is humility and I think the question that we need to address, perhaps ourselves this evening as we think about this is “Do I have a proud spirit? Am I angered by the unfolding of the providence of God in my life?” Now think back on this year that has just gone by and the events that transpired in your life and are you at peace with what happened? Are you at peace with the unfolding of the providence of God? Do you see it as the wisdom of God revealed? Do I have a proud spirit? For the impending trial Peter says, “Be subject, all of you, be clothed with humility toward one another and toward God. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”
You know there’s so much in here and it’s a travesty because I don’t have time to unfold all of this now. But isn’t it a remarkable thing to see here that God’s timing is the best timing. You know, God will exalt you, God will bring you out of that trial in His own time and part of our problem, part of our pride is an unwillingness to yield ourselves to that timing because we can run ahead of the providence of God. And what Peter seems to be saying is this, that if you want to live a Christ-like life, you must accept the providence of God for being all-wise. Humble yourselves under His mighty hand.
Now what does it mean then to be humble? Well let’s try and answer that by giving a few examples: if you make a mistake you’ve got to be willing to say “sorry.” If you are weak and inadequate, you’ve got to be prepared to ask for help. Humility runs the risk of losing face. Humility runs the risk of not being noticed and that can make anyone anxious. And Peter is saying here, “Stop thinking that you can solve everything. Stop thinking that the future is in your hands and in your control, that tomorrow is in your control, that everything depends on you.”
You know, that’s what makes us anxious, isn’t it? That’s what makes us troubled. It’s the feeling that absolutely everything depends upon us. And Peter is saying, “You are far too small to be able to carry the burdens that unfold the providence of this world.” And that’s why you must cast your burdens, you must cast your anxiety upon the Lord because it’s only the shoulders of and almighty and a sovereign God that can carry those burdens.
If Peter is saying something about humility, he’s also saying something here strongly about anxiety. Now notice Peter just doesn’t leave it there, casting all your cares upon Him, because he wants us to appreciate the kind of God that God is upon whom we cast our cares. He speaks of God’s power, the mighty Hand of God. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God.”
We’ve just been following the wonderful story of the Exodus. Every Sunday evening we’ve gone just a little bit further in that story. We’re going to take a giant leap of 40 years in a couple of weeks’ time and we’re going to have to come back to the story later, but at every stage of the journey what has been emphasized to us is the mighty hand of God. The God who parted the Red Sea; not just two feet of water, not just three feet of water but the God who parted the Red Sea, the ocean in which the Egyptian armies drowned. And we’ve noticed, haven’t we, how Moses, time and time again, reminds the people of God of His mighty hand. And Peter is doing that here.
There are some things that you are carrying tonight that are far, far too heavy for you and only a God who can part the Red Sea can carry those burdens. The God who could walk on the waves of the Sea of Galilee, only His shoulders can carry those burdens. The burdens of unconverted children, the burdens of a marriage that is failing, the burdens of not being able to find a job, the burden of an impending disease that has all the possibility of taking away your life. You know as we look around and as we hear the prayers tonight there are so many burdens here and Peter is saying, “Cast them on the Lord, on the mighty hand of God,” but notice not just that. Notice what he says in verse 7: “Casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you,” because He loves you.
Under the care of my God the
Safe in the secret place of the Most High
He is my refuge, the Lord is my Fortress
Him I am trusting when trouble is nigh
Under His wings, Under His wings
Safe in the refuge hide thee
Trusting His truth and faithfulness
No evil can betide thee
Isn’t that a wonderful thing to know that we have a God who is not only almighty, but He’s also caring. He’s not just caring but He’s almighty. He has both power and ability and a desire to help us and to aid us. You know that’s what this prayer meeting is all about, isn’t it? Every Wednesday evening, that’s why we gather every Wednesday evening corporately as the people of God, to do precisely what Peter is saying here, to cast our burdens upon the Lord, to humble ourselves. It is humbling because we are saying, “We are not strong enough to carry these burdens. We don’t have the ability to do anything about some of these issues and we’re coming before God and we’re saying, “Lord, only you can do this. Only you can change this.” And that’s humbling.
III. The devil – you must resist
But there’s a third thing. Not only is there a word here about humility and a word about anxiety, but very quickly there’s a word here about devilry. “Be sober, be vigilant, be on the alert,” why? Because “your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion.”
Peter knew all about it. Didn’t Jesus warn Peter, “Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you”? I think that this is once again Peter looking back to that incident in the courtyard when the devil was prowling about like a roaring lion and Peter is saying, “Resist him, be aware, Christian, that the devil is trying to do his utmost to undo the Christ-likeness that God is forming within your soul.”
C.S. Lewis recognized that in the Screwtape Letters, he has that senior devil say to his apprentice, “There’s nothing like anxiety for barricading up a human mind against the Enemy.” The Enemy in this case, of course, would be God. In southern France, overlooking the Mediterranean, there stands the Tower of Constance. And in the 18th century Huguenot women were imprisoned there. They were in prison for decades because of their refusal to surrender their Reformed faith. In this tower, Marie Durant was taken in 1729 when she was 15 years old. Three years later her brother was executed; she witnessed it. She was to remain in that tower for over 30 years and on several occasions she would be asked in a formal proceeding to recant her Reformed faith. Etched on a stone in that tower is the French verb resister, resistance. If I can borrow a phrase from an entirely different genre, “Resistance is not futile.” And what Peter is saying here is, “Christian brothers and sisters, resist him. Resist him in the faith,” Peter says. “Resist him by looking to God and pleading to God to help you. Stand firm in your faith.”
And what is the outcome? Well, all I can do is read verse 10 at this stage, “After you have suffered for a little while,” there’s providence for you again. You know, trials are only for a little while in the measurement of eternity, trials are only for a little while. Oh they appear long to you now, but from eternity you will look back and you’ll say, “They lasted only for a little while.” But once that trial is over in the purposes and providence of God, “the God of all grace,” not just some grace but ALL grace, “who called you to His eternal glory in Christ,” and the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable, He Himself will “perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” That having begun a good work, He will complete it to the day of Jesus Christ. It’s a marvelous passage and it’s full of wonderful, wonderful encouragement to us to stand fast and to hold our ground. Let’s pray together.
Our Father in heaven as we gather together as your people around your word tonight, we thank you for this marvelous word. We thank you for its many, many encouragements; we thank you that the exhortations are laced with grace. We thank you that above all there is the assurance that a sovereign, omnipotent, gracious God has promised to do us good and your promises can never fail. And bless us now we pray for Jesus’ sake, Amen.