MAY THE WORDS OF MY LIPS AND THE MEDITATION OF OUR HEARTS BE ALWAYS ACCEPTABLE IN THY SIGHT OH LORD OUR STRENGH AND OUR REDEEMER
"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 St. Peter v: 5)
One of the lovely things about this passage is Peter’s attitude. He does not put himself above the members of the church but comes to share the Christian problems and the Christian experience with them. One thing is different: he has memories of Jesus, and these memories are in his heart, colouring all his thoughts and language. Peter describes himself as a witness of the sufferings of Christ. It was Peter who followed Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest’s house, and there in a time of weakness he denied his Master three times. When the trial came to an end and as Jesus was being taken away there comes what may be the most tragic sentence in the New Testament:
‘The Lord turned and looked at Peter … And he went out and wept bitterly.’ In that look, Peter saw the suffering in the heart of his Master because his follower had failed him in the hour of his most bitter need. Peter was indeed a witness to the suffering that comes to Christ when people deny him, and that is why Peter is so eager for the people to be resolute in loyalty and faithful in service.
Peter tells the people that they must clothe themselves with humility. He may well have been thinking about when Jesus put on a slaves apron at the Last Supper, took water and began to wash the disciples’ feet. Many people have the wrong idea about God, the Bible and humility, or being humble. They think being humble means groveling in front of others or thinking we're no good and others are better. That's not what the Bible says. God says when you are humble you are free from pride and arrogance. You don't need to defend yourself when you understand what the Bible says about humility, because you know who you are in Christ. You can be a peacemaker without needing to fight for your rights. You can walk humbly in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in your own strength. Godly humility is being comfortable with who you are in the Lord and therefore putting others first. The picture of humility in the Bible is one of a strong person who loves others, not someone who is a wimp. We hear in Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Next Peter turns his attention to “for God resisteth the proud“. Being proud can be a good thing or it can become pride which is one of the seven deadly sins. There is nothing wrong with being proud that you are a Christian but it is how you behave that could turn that feeling of being proud into prideful behavior. In his An Essay on Criticism, Alexander Pope wrote, “Of all the causes which conspire to blind Man’s erring judgment, and misguide the mind, what the weak head with strongest bias rules, is Pride, the never-failing vice of fools.” Pride is one of the tools of Satan and a sin in which most of us, if not, all, have participated in at some point in our lives. Using our example of being proud that you are a Christian lets’ look at how that is good and how it can become sinful. On a macro level the world has advanced more since the beginning of Christianity than at any other period in history. The moral lessons taught by Christianity caused the collapse of tyrannical kingdoms and the growth of democracy. The moral culture of the world has been changed by Christianity. Now I am not saying that the whole world is Christian, I am saying most other religions have come to respect Christians. I dare say the high priests of the Jewish Church never dreamt that there would be approximately 2.1 billion Christians in the world. The stories of good that Christians have done around the world are too many to mention. So it’s okay to be proud that you are a Christian and even better is you in some aspect of your life are helping God’s creatures or people who are less fortunate than yourself. As a Christian Church family we will look for opportunities to help the community surrounding us.
When being proud turns into prideful behavior we fall into sin. The devil takes that good feeling we have and makes us crave it. Our craving makes us say and do things that we hope will make that feeling continue and the exact opposite happens. The change can be as simple as boasting about being a Christian which is really a way of putting down those who are not Christian. It makes them feel inferior because they don’t believe what you believe or said differently because they are different than you. Depending upon whether one is a psycho-analyst, a therapist, a psychologist, or a theologian, pride is defined in several different ways, but all the definitions have one part in common; and that is, that pride is an exaggeration of our self-worth and power, it is a feeling of superiority over others, or an excessive and inordinate love of one’s self, even to the point of seeking to play God – the creature trying to take the place of the Creator.
Although Peter could have bragged about the time he spent with Jesus and put himself above the people, he wisely humbled himself before them. Peter put on an apron of humility just like the slave’s apron that Jesus put on before washing the feet of his disciples. Our apron of humility is our garment of honour, for it is the one who is the servant of all who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven; “for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."
And now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost be ascribed all might, majesty, power and dominion as is most justly due this day; world without end. AMEN