A New Dimension of Pride and humility.
“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
In years past, I have always hear people define respect and honor in a certain way that it exemplifies something that goes from the young to the adult but not from the adult to the young. All those while, disrespect has been solely blamed on the younger generation as the elders even in church feels there is no need or no binding text that instructs them to also respect their young ones. All those while, the above text was always cited and boldly declared into the ears of the young ones. Well… I’d say we’ve always quoted it out of context or perhaps it has always been understood wrongly. Let’s look at the preceding verses of that scripture before we come down to our main text. Peter wrote,
“Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2
Peter was writing to the elders of the church, he was asking them to be examples to the flocks handed over to them and he told them how they can be examples. It was by being the opposite of lords over God’s heritage (brethren). That means Peter was asking the elders to respect the flock which includes the young ones and be an example. Peter must have written this bearing in mind what happened that faithful day Jesus washed his feet. Let me narrate the story for you a little….
Peter had witnessed Jesus done miracles; Peter had seen Jesus walk on the sea. Peter was a first hand witness of the marvelous powers of Jesus. It was still fresh in the memory of Peter how Jesus saved him from drowning, how the blind saw, how the dead came back to life, how his mother in-law was restored and made whole. Peter had even got revelations from God concerning the person of Jesus being the son of God!
Suddenly! God incarnate stoops at the feet of his followers to wash their feet! In the ancient times and in fact in the middle east, the feet is the most dirtiest part of man because they do travel a lot and there was no car in those days. Not everyone would afford a donkey or a horse… Peter having confessed that Jesus is the son of the living God felt it improper for this highest personality to stoop so low to watch his feet. Since he was the one who had the revelation of who Jesus was, he wasn’t comfortable with his master washing his feet and he protested saying in John 13:6-8
“Lord, dost thou wash my feet?… Thou shalt never wash my feet”
Look at that? Peter was calling him Lord but the Lord wants to wash the feet of his disciple. That was the most humble thing to do in those days… to wash the dirtiest part of the human body. But Jesus insisted and had his way. Jesus washed their feet and also wiped them with his own towel. He therefore said to them afterwards
“If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Vs. 14
The above experience had changed Peter’s life forever; it changed how he reasoned, how he relates to people and in fact his message to the Church. If Jesus would wash the feet of his disciples, who are the elders not to wash the feet of their flocks? Unfortunately… it is the elders who want their feet washed. Today, Pastors are celebrated for cleaning the chair while on set. They are applauded for helping someone pick up falling papers, they are now seen as another class of people who shouldn’t serve but be served. In is in this kind of situation that Peter’s letter would be making much more sense. Many young and baby Christians have little or no regard for the church elders anymore because the church elders didn’t set an example.
Today, every young person who discovers a spiritual gift or another wants to be called names like “General Overseer”, “Father”, “Papa” and all that. They do so because that is what they see the elders do! Do elders of the church has left young people with little or no example. Respect has been redefined as greeting people “good morning” and “good afternoon” and the young ones feels that as long as they can greet, they are already getting it right.
Now, let’s look at 1 Peter 5:5 and see what Peter was asking the Church to do. Just like he has previously advised the elders of the church to be an example of humility, he was also asking the young ones to imitate the elders and be humble. When we read in context we will discover that Peter intentionally arranged his speech in the order of “live by example” for elders and “follow the example” for the young. How do I know this? We must be mindful of the end of the first sentence in verse 5 which was “…submit yourselves unto the elders.” Another sentence began after that and it was a summary of all he has said before and after the former statement. He continued “Yea, ALL OF YOU be subject ONE TO ANOTHER, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
This is God’s desire for us… Who respects who? The elder lives the life of humility as example and the flocks follow their example. Respect is meant to go from elders to the young and from the young to the elders. Why does God resist the proud? It is because proud people boast of their strength, their ability, their intelligence, their eagerness and much more. Proud people cannot glorify God, they cannot agree that they were helped, they cannot agree that there were things they couldn’t do. In so doing, they are lying against God, they are almost declaring in their heart that there is no God and they cannot in anyway declare God’s wondrous works because they will always claim they did the deeds that yielded the results. God resists such people and humiliates them. Their humiliation may not come instantaneously but it cannot be avoided. God doesn’t want anyone to take His place.
What about the humble? The humble believes he lack the ability to achieve anything therefore trusting in God for everything. Because of their trust in God, they are able to keep climbing. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 13:5
“But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.”
You see that? His heart shall rejoice in salvation, why? Because he trusted in God’s mercy. Pride isn’t the declaration of who one is, it is the declaration of who one is not. Pride is full of lies, pride tells you it’s all about you but humility tells you someone is watching over you.
It is pride that prevents many from displaying the servant leadership attitude that Jesus displayed. But in humility, the life of Jesus gradually begins to shine out from us. Humble people give God enough space to use them to the highest capacity and that is why the humble is lifted
What is your take on this? Feel free to say your mind.