Clothe yourselves with humility. 1 Peter 5:5
The bag of snack chips was small, but it taught an American missionary a big lesson. Working one evening in the Dominican Republic, she arrived at a church meeting and opened her chips when a woman she hardly knew reached and grabbed a few from the bag. Others helped themselves, too.
How rude, the missionary thought. Then she realized a humbling lesson. She didn’t yet understand the culture where she’d agreed to serve. Rather than emphasizing individualism, as in the United States, she learned that life in the Dominican Republic is lived in community. Sharing one’s food and goods is how people relate to each other. Her way wasn’t better, just different. She confessed, “It was very humbling to discover these things about me.” As she began to recognize her own biases, she also learned that humbly sharing with others helped her serve them better.
Peter taught this lesson to church leaders: treat others with humility. He counseled the elders to resist “lording it over those entrusted to you” (1 Peter 5:3). And those younger? “Submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility” (v. 5). As he declared: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Therefore, “humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (v. 6). May He help us humbly live before Him and others today.
What cultural biases do you harbor? How could you let God transform those attitudes so you humbly serve all?
Father, exchange my arrogance regarding others with Your humble love.
As Peter prepared to close his letter to a persecuted first-century church, he turned his attention to instructions for the leaders. Calling them his fellow elders, he urged them to be “shepherds” who serve their flock not out of obligation but out of love (1 Peter 5:2). Peter had already shared in their persecution through imprisonment and beatings and would eventually lose his life in his service for Jesus. He’d also seen firsthand the servant leadership of Christ, who on the night before His crucifixion stooped to wash the feet of His disciples. Jesus is the role model Peter followed, and the apostle wanted his fellow elders and shepherds to do the same (v. 1). Whatever ministry God has given to us, however large or small, we can avoid the pitfalls of pride, materialism, and authoritarianism if we’re motivated by a singular love for God and His people.