Reading the Word
1 Peter 5:1–5 (ESV)
1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 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.”
Understanding the Word
Peter now shifts his focus from telling his readers how to live in the world with unbelievers to giving them instructions on how to live with one another. He instructs the “elders” to shepherd the flock of God. The picture here is that of shepherds caring for their sheep. The elders, as we learn elsewhere in Scripture (e.g. 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9), are to be the spiritually mature who are able to guard the true gospel from corruption and care for the less mature. They are not to rule over the flock, but live as examples.
Peter also gives instructions to the “younger”, that is, the less mature believers. He calls on them to be subject, or submit, to the elders. In essence, he calls on them to follow the leadership of the elders.
This passage ends with a call to both the elders and the younger to live in humility toward one another. There is no place for one feeling superior over another for any reason.
Applying the Word
Humility is contrary to our nature. It is seen as the opposite of self-esteem. We embrace the opposite and call it self-confidence. But in the Church, there is no place for one person or group feeling superior to another. In Christ, all are children of God and stand on equal footing as heirs to the kingdom. May Christians never allow things like race, social class, education, or roles in the church to divide the people of God. May we live in humility as we serve one another through the grace of God.
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