1 Peter 5:5-7
Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility…
The apostle is not thinking of those who are young in years when he writes, "Likewise, ye younger." In the early Church the ministers were to he tried men, consequently they were more advanced in experience than most of the rest, and thus were called elders as their official designation; and those who are here addressed are the private members of the Church. He speaks of them as "younger," a term corresponding to "elder." "Ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder." All that Peter actually says of the conduct becoming the Church to its ministers is in that word "submit." He then applies the principle on a much broader scale. From the fifth verse to the ninth the one idea is self-submission, and, having struck that key, he says, "Let there be the humility of subjection to one another; the humility of submission to God; and the humility of suspicion with regard to Satan." Our subject is - The conduct becoming Church members towards the elders of the Church, and the principle applied generally. Self-suppression was not always Peter's characteristic; the Peter of the Gospels almost always asserted himself and took the lead; the Peter of the Epistles, Peter the aged, has grown in gentleness by growing downwards.
I. THE DIVINE DEMAND FOR HUMILITY. "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." It is probably correct to say that pride is wherever self is put first, and refuses to submit either to God or man. There is the pride of self-righteousness; the pride of self-glorification; the pride of self-reliance; the pride of self-will, etc.
1. Think of God's resistance of pride. The word really means, "God sets himself in battle array" against the proud. But can God be against man? May I use an illustration? God is like a river; his laws ever sweep to the great ocean of blessing his love desires for men, and those who submit to be carried by them where they will, ever find that God is wholly on man's side; but let them set themselves against those laws, and try to make headway and reach success in opposition to them, when, then, they are beaten about and disappointed, and at last utterly ruined, are they at liberty to say that God is against them? No, and Yes. No, because they were against him, and it was not God resisting them, but-they resisting God. Yes, because in doing that they brought all the Divine force to bear against them. Think of having the whole of God, his purposes, his laws, his providences, yea, and his love, turned to fight against us.
2. "God giveth grace to tire humble." Grace! what grace? All kinds of grace - all the varied treasures which he designs for his children, and which Christ's sacrifice has purchased for them. Grace according to the riches of Divine glory. Who can have it? The consciously empty heart, submitting itself to God, to be filled by him.
II. THE APPLICATION OF THIS DEMAND FOR HUMILITY TO THE MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP OF CHRISTIANS. "All of you," ministers and people, "be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility." The apostle here uses a rare and curious word; in the Revised Version it is rendered, "Gird yourselves with humility." Another instance of how Peter's early life reproduces itself in this Epistle.
1. Humble subjection to one another is his demand. Forego for others something to which you may be entitled - some pleasure, or distinction, or convenience, which none could blame you for accepting, but which for the happiness of your brother you willingly give up. And this when you have to stoop to do it, when it involves a bringing down of your pride, when it is on behalf of the unworthy, possibly of an enemy, or one lower than you.
2. This must be a matter of personal discipline. Humility does not grow on us; it is foreign to our proud selfish nature; and the soul which sets out at the Divine bidding to acquire this spirit of humility to which God imparts all grace, will have to be much alone with itself and God, and not be in a moment's doubt as to where lies one of the great battlefields of life.
3. This humble subjection to one another is greatly due to the keeping of Christ's example before us. If we are plagued with pride, with a spirit that stands aloof, that cannot bend, nor yield, nor serve, but that wants to lead and receive homage, that spirit from which God withholds his grace, let us set Christ before us. The mind that was in him will be in us only as we keep him in view; the taw of heaven fulfilled on earth - looking, we become like.
III. THIS DEMAND (FOR HUMILITY) STILL FURTHER APPLIED TO OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD GOD UNDER AFFLICTION. It is implied here that pride of heart is likely to manifest itself in affliction in two ways.
1. In rebellion against God, casting us down. Affliction may come through many means, but, let the means be what they may, it is "the mighty hand of God." Now, our tendency is to rebel against him and his will, and this rebellion is the essence of pride; it is the soul lifting up its own judgment against the wisdom of the Most High. We call our murmuring at God's will by much softer names than this, but this is what it is; let us shrink from it with all our might. Here is our Pattern. A Pleader in the dark grove of Gethsemane, pleading in his agony, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;" but adding, in the utter humility of his faith, "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?"
2. In unwillingness to trust him. We think our affairs depend on us, and that, if we fail, they must fail. I say it is a subtle pride that is at the bottom of that, the soul unwilling to let God be everything. We must lose that; for God's happiness and glory, we must lose it; we must be ready to confide in him absolutely, though we cannot see what he is doing, and cannot do anything more for ourselves. We must rely entirely on his love.
3. But whence comes this humility? "Know thyself." Depend upon it, we shall be humble enough if we know ourselves. But we shall only know ourselves as we know Jesus; in his greatness we discover our littleness, in his goodness our sin, in his life our example, in his love our coldness, in his cross our doom. - C.N.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you clothe yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."