A Deep Dive Into Humility, Part 5: Under the Mighty Hand of God
May 19, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
So far in our deep dive into humility we have defined humility and considered some examples. I have proposed this definition of humility: living in light of God’s assessment of our nature, position, abilities, and calling. I want to turn our attention now to passages that speak to the importance and benefits of being humble. As we look at these passages, I pray that the call to humility would be enticing as a path in which we all strive to walk.
We start with a passage that has two explicit commands to be humble, 1 Peter 5:5-7. Consider these words from Peter:
“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
The first command is others focused. The second command is God focused. Today I want to unpack this second command. Next time we will consider the first command.
The first thing to notice is that Peter grounds both commands in the proverb, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” This comes from Proverbs 3:34. The wisdom expressed in this proverb is that our relationship with God is impacted by our pride and humility. I believe Peter learned this the hard way. He presumptuously confronts Jesus when Jesus predicted his death. Jesus rebukes Peter as hindering God’s plan, just like Satan (Matt. 16:21-23). Again, Peter presumptuously claims that he will never abandon Jesus in his trials. Jesus accurately predicts that Peter would deny him three times before the sun rose that morning (Matt. 26:30-35). Peter learns from these moments that his pride did not gain him anything in relation to Jesus or God. In fact, his pride drove a wedge between him and Jesus.
Peter also learned the path of humility from Jesus. In the post-resurrection fishing trip of John 21, Jesus graciously restores Peter to a place of leadership in his budding church. Jesus’ question, “Do you love me?” asked three times, draws Peter’s humility out. At this point, Peter had been humbled by his failure, and does not appeal to his self-confidence, but to Jesus’ knowledge and acceptance of him. Peter is strengthened and emboldened for his upcoming ministry by Christ’s grace for him.
I believe these personal experiences are behind Peter’s instruction in 1 Peter 5. Peter learned the truth and wisdom of Proverbs 3:34 in his relationship with Christ. Now he calls the church to the same wisdom. After quoting the proverb, he says in verse 6, “therefore…” Peter is saying, “Because this proverb is full of wisdom and true, live in accordance with its wisdom.” The wisdom is a call to “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” By speaking of the “mighty hand of God,” Peter highlights our weakness and inability to be perfect. God is mighty to save (Zeph. 3:17). God is mighty to judge and condemn (Is. 11:3-4). If we trust in ourselves (pride), we will find God opposing us. It we trust in the Lord (humility), we will find God’s grace. Humility is essential for a relationship with God.
Jesus illustrates this principle in a parable in Luke 18:9-14. Two men go up to the temple to pray, a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee boasts before the Lord in all that he does. The tax collector humbly appeals to the mercy of God because he has nothing to boast of. Jesus says the tax collector returns to his house “justified,” not the Pharisee. To be justified is to be counted righteous and acceptable in the sight of God. The prideful work of the Pharisee got him nothing with God. The humility of the tax collector gave him everything in a relationship with God.
Without humility, we will never have a relationship with God. Humility is the recognition that we are unable to keep God’s law perfectly (Gal. 2:16), that we can never save ourselves (Rom. 3:20), that we are by nature weak and worthy of condemnation (Eph. 2:2-3), and that only the mercy of God is our hope (Ps. 130:3-4). But we are prone, just like Peter, to trust in ourselves. So, we need the daily reminder: here is grace! In humility before God. Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so you can thrive in God’s grace.