I grew up in warm southern cities, so when I moved north, it took me a while to learn how to drive safely during the long, snowy months. During my first hard winter, I ended up stranded in a snowdrift three times! But after several years of practice, I began to feel comfortable driving in wintry conditions. In fact, I felt a little too comfortable. I stopped being as vigilant. And that’s when I hit a patch of black ice and skidded into a telephone pole on the side of the road!
Thankfully, no one was hurt, but I learned something important that day. I realized how dangerous it can be to feel comfortable. Instead of being watchful, I had gone on “autopilot.”
We need to practice that same kind of vigilance in our spiritual lives. Peter warns believers not to glide thoughtlessly through life, but to “be alert” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is actively trying to destroy us, and so we too need to be active, resisting temptation and standing firm in our faith (v. 9). That’s not something we have to do on our own though. God promises to be with us in our sufferings and, ultimately, to make us “strong, firm and steadfast” (v. 10). By His power, we learn to remain watchful and alert in resisting evil and following Him.
Where do you need to be more alert? In what ways will you stay vigilant in following Jesus?
It’s been said that wise choices are the fruit of experience, and experience is the product of poor choices. It could be argued that the wise counsel Peter offers here may have been learned in the darkest night of his life—the night he chose to deny knowing Jesus. The call to humility (1 Peter 5:6) is in contrast to Peter’s prideful boasting that he could face death with Jesus (Luke 22:33). Rather than being alert (1 Peter 5:8), Peter slept when he could have prayed in Gethsemane (Luke 22:45–46). Instead of standing firm (1 Peter 5:9), Peter denied even knowing his Lord (Luke 22:54–62). God’s response to Peter’s failings? Grace (1 Peter 5:10). What if the greatest lessons Peter ever learned were the result of the worst failure he ever faced?