Friday, March 19, 2010

Under the Mighty Hand of God

Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5-7)
Peter teaches us that we are to be clothed with humility and serve one another. He quotes Proverbs 3:34 (from the Septuagint version, the Greek translation of the Hebrew text).

God “resists” the proud. The Greek word is antitassomai, from the same root as hypotasso, the word for “submit.” The verb stem, tasso, means to arrange or set. The prefix hypo means to be under something. When we are submissive, we are arranged or set under whatever it is we are submitted to. The prefix anti means to be against. The word antitassomai is set in the middle voice, which means that God arranges Himself the proud. The point is clear: If we are not willing to be submissive to one another, God will set Himself in opposition against us. On the other hand, if we will learn to serve each other with a spirit of humility, God will pour out His grace upon us. The grace of God is His favor, His willingness to release all the power and authority of heaven on our behalf. The contrast could not be sharper: God is ready to arrange Himself for us or against us, depending on our willingness to serve and submit to one another.

The answer, of course, is that we should allow ourselves to be humbled under the mighty hand of God. The Greek word for “humble yourselves,” is actually in the passive voice, “allow yourselves to be humbled.” Whenever the mighty hand of God is revealed, it is always for the benefit of His friends but against His foes. If we are humble and willing, the mighty hand of God is not against us but for us, and He is gracious to get us where we need to be. He will teach and empower us for His way of loving, giving and serving. Then when the “due time” (Greek, kairos, the poignant or proper moment) comes, He will exalt us, even as He exalted Jesus.

Loving and serving one another are all the more important in times of trouble or persecution, when it can be so easy for us to focus on our own needs to the neglect of each other. But Peter assures us that we are in good hands. When we allow God to teach us humility, we can “cast our cares” over onto Him, because He cares for us. The Greek word for “cast” means to fling or toss, to hurl in a sudden motion. There are two different Greek words for “care” used here. The first one (“cast your care”) refers to the distractions and anxieties of life that so often eat away at us, sapping our strength and destroying our peace of mind. These are the cares we are to quickly heave over onto Him. The second word (“He cares for you”) speaks of the interest or concern God has for us. He will take care of everything we need, freeing us to care for each other. (See also How to Cast Your Cares.)



Keeping the Faith When Things Get Tough
Keeping the Faith When Things Get Tough
Peter’s Letter to Jesus Believers Scattered Everywhere
Bite-Sized Studies Through First Peter
by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.