I PETER 13
Roy Osborne 2006
Reprinted July 2014
FIVE GREAT PRINCIPLES FOR CHRISTIANS TO LIVE BY
At the close of Peter’s first letter, he suggests five great themes of which every Christian should be aware. Remember that Peter is writing under the stress of intense Roman persecution, and speaks much to suffering for the cause of Christ. With that in the background, these final words in chapter five carry added significance for us.
First he addresses Elders, and urges them to act as shepherds, who love and care for the welfare of their sheep, not as lords over them. The ultimate quality of an elder should be sensitivity to the feelings and needs of the people. He also should make the love and unity of the family he is responsible for his top priority. Peter states that the ideal leadership should be by living the example of the Christian life, not by dictating policies and making the rules. It would be well for every older member of the church to heed this admonition, even if they are not in the official “elder” role.
The second lesson Peter would teach is for the younger members. To them he urges that they “clothe themselves with humility”. This is not urging a subservient role for young people, but a recognition of the fact that they do not have the experience, nor the wisdom which comes with age. This should cause them to be slow to follow their own desires, and to be given to listening and learning from those who have trod the path before them. It is also a notice to the older ones to live lives worthy to be followed and imitated.
The third wonderful theme suggested here is in verse 7. “Cast your anxieties on Him for He cares for you”. Never does any Biblical writer ever promise that God will remove all of our problems, nor that He will supply all of our desires, or even our needs in this physical life. In every lesson on prayer, the writer states that God will give you everything you need, but that means everything you need for the health of your soul, and to follow His lead. As Peter is well aware, this world is not a friendly place for those who place their trust in God, and follow His ways. God does not intend to make us comfortable and successful in our pagan surroundings. We are strangers here.
Having said this, however, it is still a wonderful comfort to know that the Creator of all things cares about each of us. Like a parent, who does not give a child everything it wants, for the good of the child, so God does not give us all the things the earth-man may desire. But He cares about our tears and sorrows just the same, and listens to our prayers with sympathetic ear. More importantly, He recognizes our weaknesses and makes allowance for them, with forgiveness and loving care. What a comfort to know this when we find life filled with pain and disappointment, and when ultimately we face the end.
The fourth principle Peter introduces urges us to be “self-controlled and alert”. There is no way we can overstate the importance of this admonition. In this world of mind altering drugs, self-indulgence, pleasure seeking, and self-destructive behavior, the idea of self-control is a concept that is ignored by most. If we all practiced self-control, there would be no smokers, a much less obese society, no drunken driving deaths, less crime, less sickness and a more peaceful world. Think about it! Many modern “thinkers”(?) teach parents and teachers to not discipline young people. This means that self-control is passe…an out-of-date idea. No wonder our society is deteriorating into a moral sewer.
We hear a lot about independent rights here in America. To be truly independent you have to be in control of your own life. If you let some addiction, or some fad of society, or some peer group, or any other factor control your life, you are not free. You are slave to whatever controls you. In this passage, Peter follows self-control with “be alert”. Modern society has many things which endanger your future, your character and even your life. The mature person stays aware of such things and avoids them no matter how popular they may be, or how much pleasure and enjoyment they offer. If you are alert, you will not be controlled by the ad-men of television, or the blandishments of your peers.
Finally, Peter says, “Peace to all of you who are in Christ”. Wouldn’t that be wonderful! Unfortunately, too many religious teachers and leaders never learn to control themselves out of the way in humble submission to the desire of Jesus for all to be one in His body. Division has wracked the body of Christ and has prevented the wonder of God’s goodness and grace from enriching our world, as He would do, if we would let Him. Unless we do everything in our power to make and keep peace, we cannot be called followers of the
Prince of Peace.