Friday, 30 October 2009


Clothe yourself with humility, the aged Apostle Peter writes (1Peter 5:5). Who would dare proclaim themselves an expert in humility? Yet the Scriptures command that followers of Christ be humble. To be an expert Christian is to be a humble Christian. Because of this amazingly high goal for Christian discipleship, no one can claim to be an expert Christian. "Clothe yourself in humility" is not just a command, but a major goal of following Christ. But it is a goal that we cannot attain. We must therefore continue to strive toward it, but actually draw on one of the major attributes of humility to achieve it: dependence upon God and His grace.

In the context of what the Apostle Peter is saying in First Peter 5, humility immediately requires submission to teaching and governing elders (1Peter 5:5). A humble person is a teachable person.

Here's some humility test questions based on this short passage-

How do you respond to someone who tells you what to do?

How do you respond to someone who corrects or directs you?

These seemed to be important questions for the Apostle Peter. He commences this chapter by addressing those who who were called to lead. While it is perhaps true that there are some leaders who do so because they are power-hungry and attention-seeking, for most church leaders it requires humility because they are serving people. Whenever you serve someone, you are inevitably going to be criticised, compared, or taken advantage of. This requires humility. Even though leaders may be in the 'spot-light' this actually demands humility to be prepared to put yourself forward in front of the scrutiny of others. It takes humility to serve. But pride can also stop someone from being served. If any Apostle knew this, it was Peter. Remember the night of His Lord's betrayal? While the disciples were fighing among themselves who was the greatest, Jesus stripped to the waist and took a basin and a towell and began to wash His self-absorbed apostles' feet. But when He came to Peter He met with resistance. Peter was too proud to let Christ serve (minister) to him! It takes humility to allow someone to serve you.

If asked to serve in some way, do you positively respond by serving?

If you have an offer of help or assistance from someone, do you generally accept the offer?

The over-arching point of Peter's passage is to have peace and harmony within the church. The clearest strategy he has in mind for achieving this goal is: humility. It seems that pride will always cause hurt, injury, and division. But humility - forebearing, forgiving, and forgetting - will always strengthen relationships (whether they be within the church or the home). Many churches have been destroyed because of pride. No churches have ever been destroyed because of humility.

Humility questions-

How quickly do you cover and forgive those who have hurt or offended you?

Do you generally overcome the temptation to tell others of the hurt you felt from someone else?

Mark 7:21 - 22 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.

Peter opens this closing chapter of his first epistle by charging elders to care for the church. These leaders were leaders because they were considerate. Because pride is essentially self-focus it is almost impossible for the proud person to be truly considerate of others. People who leave their mobile phones on while going to the cinema or theatre are inconsiderate enough, but those who actually talk on their phones during a movie or play are even more inconsiderate. I once heard of someone who was sitting on a long plane trip next to someone who had their iPod turned right up as they listened to the "Greatest Hits of the 80s". They endured Duran-Duran, Culture Club, Village People, Tina Turner and others. While they noise from the headset was inconsiderate enough, the passenger was clearly using their iPod experience to prepare for their upcoming TV appearance on "Idol". It was then that the Boy George song- So You Really Want To Hurt Me? - came on. The person beside this iPod Kareoker could take it no longer and ripped out one of their ear-buds and yelled "Yes!"
Romans 11:20b ...So do not become proud, but stand in awe.

Humble people consider those around them. They are aware of how others might be feeling. They remember if someone was sick or ill and asks after them next time they see them. They listen to others and remember things such as a person's name. If asked to do something, a humble person will be prepared to go out of their way in order to make the request happen (note Psalm 15).
James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Humility is our command and our goal. It should be strived for but only in the grace of God. That is, we become teachable, respectful, forgiving, helpful, considerate and thankful followers of Christ because of the grace of God (God's enabling). May God help us to serve Him and be served by Him in the humility that most glorifies Him to this proud world.
First Peter 5:5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”


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