Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

Molalla, Oregon

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It is Smart to be Simple

October 26th, 2008 by Vic

Bible Reference: 1 Peter 4:11-5:14

The Scripture commanded us in 4:1 to arm ourselves with the attitude of Christ. The attitude of Christ is an attitude that is aware of God and is willing to suffer to obey God’s clear Word. In the Beattitudes, Jesus said the pure in heart see God. The pure in heart have an awareness of God in the present. This is the attitude of Christ.

Look at the doxology in 4:11. Peter is suggesting that all the speaking of believers should be words in harmony with God’s will and God’s way. Are we aware that God is present and may be speaking through us? All speaking should be edifying to believers. We are to serve one another with our words. In effect, Peter is broadening the tradional understanding of prophecy so that it includes teaching, exhortation, and all words that build up one another. All speaking must build up the church to the glory of God. Our daily living should be with an awareness that God is speaking and has spoken.

“Whoever does the speaking, do it as one bringing the words of God.”

“Whoever serves, do it out of strength that God provides.”

God is mentioned 3 times in this verse. Whoever serves with the attitude of Christ should serve out of the strength God provides. The word for ‘serve’ is our word deacon ‘diakoveiv’. Literally it means to stir up the dust, but practically it is a comprehensive term for every conceivable kind of ministry. These are all the non-speaking ministries. God gives strength to all who serve Him. He gives words to those who speak and strength to those who serve. With the attitude of Christ, God can fulfill our ministry in speaking and serving. In the Corinthian letter Paul tells us that God gives us the power to serve. The Holy Spirit gives us the ministry in the body and Jesus binds it all together in love.

Does that mean that every time a Christian opens his mouth, he is speaking the words of God?

Does that mean that every time you do a good deed you are doing it with God’s strength? Maybe we need to be aware that we could be.

Do you see people as God does? Do you hear them saying what God hears? Jesus said the pure in heart see God. If God gives you the words and strength who gets the praise and thanks?

In verse 11, the word that is translated ‘provides’ or ‘supplies’ is the word ‘choregein’ which we get our word chorus from. The word here means to sponsor a chorus or traveling group. Peter sees the church as a traveling group that is totally funded and sponsored by God. God is our benefactor and choreographer.

All the promotion and advertizing should acknowledge that we exist only because of our generous sponsor/choreographer. All praise, thanks, and glory belong to God.

In this doxology Peter is suggesting that the ministry of Christians to one another is credited as authentic worship toward God. Jesus makes it possible for believers to glorify God as they build one another up. There is an equivalency between acts of worship to God and the acts of ministry that believers perform to one another. Whatever help or service is rendered to fellow believers is the work of God and at the same time it is true worship offered up to God through Jesus Christ. When Peter was talking about doing good, he was telling us how Christians should treat their enemies. But here he connects ministry with life among believers. This is how Christians should treat each other. Our words that bless believers may judge and convict unbelievers.

This doxology is not a prayer or a wish, but a statement of fact. Glory and might belong to Jesus because glory and might belong to God who raised Him to eternal life. God will be glorified in the life that believers share together and they will be ready for the end of all things.

I think Peter intended to close the letter at this point, but decided to review what he has been saying.

4:12 “dear friends” one last time let me tell you how to respond to those who slander you.

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the behavior of unbelievers. They might be surprised with your behavior, but you should not be surprised at theirs. Remember everyone has problems. The trials of life are used by God to test you and judge the unbeliever. God is not partial. Everyone has problems, both the just and unjust. But your reaction/attitude should be different. You should be armed with the attitude of Christ. You should trust God.

4:13 says sharing the sufferings of Christ brings joy. Don’t be surprised, but rejoice. Consider it all joy knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and through endurance you can be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. When you suffer for dispensing grace and doing good, you can have joy in your trial and you will certainly have joy after your trial. There should be a growing joy in the Christian as the end comes near.

4:14 When you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed. This was the verbal abuse of being called a ‘Christian’. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of glory or joy and praise. This Spirit of God rests on those who are ridiculed for the name of Christ.

4:15 Make sure you are suffering for the right reason if you want to be blessed with God’s presence. A busybody is one who tries to exercise someone else’s gift. It is meddling in things that are none of your business. Don’t try to legislate morality for others. God can take care of public morality if we in the church fear God, do good, and love one another.

4:16 If you suffer for being a Christian, give glory to God. You will not be shamed. Let your attitudes and responses bring glory to God. Even though the word Christian is a swear word and a word of contempt to some, wear it proudly, for that is what you are.

4:17 Jesus has come. God has spoken. The world is judged. The righteous are judged first by man. Your refining is just the beginning of judgment for all.

4:18 If you think your suffering is bad, remember you are only misjudged by man. Think what will happen to the godless and sinner when they are judged by God.

4:19 It may be God’s will for you to suffer unjustly. He has a reason. Undeserved suffering may be hard, but it is better than deserved suffering because the final outcome is never in doubt. If you have a good attitude you will be able to glorify God in your trial. Only as you trust God can you glorify God. Only as you trust God can you see God. Jesus said the pure in heart see God in everything. The ungodly are not so. The prophet Isaiah was crying because the world was in such a mess, but when the seraphim looked at the same world, they said holy, holy, holy, the whole earth is full of His glory. The command here is to continually entrust yourself to God’s protecting care. It is a present imperative verb.

The word souls is a translation of psyche which is used here for the whole person. It refers to your whole life not just an immaterial soul.

What evidence do our neighbors have that we are really trusting God? You do not have to trust God if you always play it safe.

A Christian has problems like everyone else. They suffer from disease and sin in the world like everyone else. But being a Christian means my sins have been forgiven. As I keep a good attitude, God gives me strength to overcome the evil with good. Trials help the people of God to get ready for the future day of glory. You entrust your life to God by doing good.

4:19. When I am suffering unjustly, I need to keep entrusting myself to God. God is faithful and worthy of trust. Keep doing good. God cares for you. Let the light of Jesus shine through you.

Peter never forgot the 3 fold command to sheep-feeding. God is our Shepherd. He walks with us in His playground. God owns our playground. He knows there are bullies in the playground. They do not know who our Father is.

This week I walked with my grandson a couple days. When we wander through deer trails he wants my hand. The trails are narrow. The sword fern brush his face. I walk in the rough trying to step on the ferns ahead of him or push the Oregon Grape back a little, making sure he has the smoothest part of the trail. He was not aware of what could be happening.

This letter is intended to be a reminder. God is walking with you but that does not make you immune to suffering. So listen to what he says.

Peter identifies himself with his readers. In 5:1 he identifies with them in 3 ways: 1. fellow-elder 2. witness 3. sharer of the glory.

1. Fellow-elder. He’s writing to the leaders in the church. Peter does not claim or assume any position higher than a local church elder. But at the same time he strongly exhorts them. He shows by example that we are to admonish one another as Paul clearly instructed. We build each other up as equal brothers. The word elder is not a church office, but an age.

2. Witness. This is the word Jesus used in Acts 1:8. It does not refer to the act of seeing, but of testifying to what has been seen. The Greek word is ‘martus’. We are all witnesses.

3. Sharer. A sharer is a ‘koinoner’. Peter is proud to be a fellow partaker of the about to be revealed glory. He is heavy on the glory; he begins and ends both letters with it. (I Peter 1:7 & 5:11; II Peter 1:3 & 3:18) Glory is at the point of being revealed. Jesus could return any time.

In 5:1 Peter identifies with his readers then in verse 2 gives them a job description.

5:2 “Shepherd the flock of God among you.” Jesus had given Peter this same command in John 21:16. Now Peter passes the command on to all leaders in the church. When Peter had given up and gone back to fishing, Jesus told him he had a reason to live. The paradox of this chapter is the shepherd is described as humble (laying low) and standing firm.

Who are these elders? Everyone who has someone looking up to you is an elder. We are all elders to someone.

We are also ‘overseers’. Episcopountes literally means to look over. We are responsible to watch over some sheep as God watches over us. The verb form is only used here and in Hebrews 12:15, but the noun form is used in I Peter 2:25. There Peter was focusing on the pattern that Christ gave us. He trusted God completely and so must we. He is our Shepherd and Overseer. Sheep recognize the Shepherd’s voice.

We are elders, not because we were appointed and forced to serve, but spontaneously. It is a fact of life that some of us are older than others. We all look up to someone and someone is looking up to us.

This word joy ‘prothumos’ is where we get our word for enthusiasm. Our ministry is not drudgery, but a joy. Some leaders were getting paid and they were just doing their job. They had lost their enthusiasm. They had lost the joy of the Lord.

5:3 We are elders, not lords. Jesus gave us the formula for being great in His kingdom: learn to be a servant.

We do not possess our ministry. We do not have a career in the church. We are not lords; we are examples. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. He is our example. We must be examples to those who listen to us.

5:4 Just as Jesus was a servant who suffered and endured the cross for the glories to follow, so “after His appearing as Chief Shepherd we will all receive for ourselves the eternal crown of glory.”

The crown is a symbol of victory, a reward for a job well done. Our crown is the presence of God.

Now Peter has an admonition to the younger leaders, the college kids who look up to others, but also have some looking up to them.

5:5 “In the same way you younger men be submissive…” In what same way?

Peter is referring back again to the example of Christ. He expanded this theme of submission in chapters 2 & 3. Here the word submission is in the passive voice as it is also in 2:13 and 3:22. This submission is because of external requirements in contrast to the submission expressed by the middle voice in 2:18, 3:1, & 3:5 which was a submission because I want to.

Here the younger submit to the older because it is required in contrast to the wives who submit themselves to their husbands in chapter 3 because they want to.

Now Peter gets back to all of us. All ages, all sexes, all classes, all colors, “everybody clothe yourselves with humility to one another.” We are to tie humility around us with a knot like an apron. If we are servants of God, let’s dress like it. Our apron of humility becomes a garment of honor like the apron our mothers or grandmothers wore.

Stop and think about it. In the past the apron was a good symbol of a mother’s love. She baked to provide for her family. She wore an apron when she worked. Think about the machinist. The apron suggests work and is a protection from the defilement of work. A symbol for a mother’s love today may be a driver’s license or a handful of clipped coupons or a job.

Every Christian should wear humility. Let your light so shine among men that they see your good work and glorify God. When people look at you do they see a dirty apron? Do they see evidence that you have fed the needy, bandaged the sick, or wiped some dirty noses? When people see you do they see a servant or a lord in fine clothes?

Why should we tie the apron of humility around us? Why is it smart to be simple? Because God sets Himself against the arrogant. Literally God arranges Himself against the proud. Pride is the sinful attitude that precipitates God’s wrath. He battles against the proud. Is it any wonder that pride precedes destruction? (Prov 3:34)

It is smart to be simple. Psalms 116:6 (KJV)

Peter says, not only does God not like a proud attitude, but He will fight against it. Why is God so opposed to the proud heart? Think about the Pharisee with a proud heart. He was self-centered not God-centered. “I thank you that I am not like other men.” Pride is an attitude that has forgotten God. Pride forgets God’s blessings, God’s care, God’s power, and God’s promises. Pride goes before destruction. Pride does not see God.

When I forget that everything I have, I have received, I get proud. When I forget that each breath I take is a gift of God, I get proud. When I think I deserve what I have, I am proud. When I think it was my words or my strength allowed me to get this thing, I am proud. When I think my self-discipline made me this way, I am proud.

The word ‘remember’ is a big word in Scripture. In fact Peter says that is why he is writing this letter; he wants us to remember. When we remember the majesty of our God and who we are, it is easy to stay humble. When we forget, we get proud.

God is giving to the humble man grace. This word humble means, ‘not rising far from the ground’. Some translate it ‘lowly’.

Jesus tried to explain humility by using a child. Matt 18:1ff It seems that the child soon becomes selfish, deceitful and does not see God.

When Jesus commissioned his disciples to go out to their neighbors and friends (Matt 10) he told them to be as shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.

The proud are in a battle against God, but the humble are receiving grace. What does it mean to receive grace? Look at verse 10. The very nature of God is grace. When I receive grace I receive God. It is an inner beauty caused by the presence of God which is reflected in an external attractiveness that brings glory to God.

Peter began speaking to us as elders, but now he is talking to us as part of this world. If it is true that God opposes the proud and gives Himself to the humble as the Scripture says, then what should we do about it?

5:6 “Be Humbled” Peter comes to the same conclusion as James comes to in James 4:10. Humility was a word of contempt for the Greeks, but it was a badge of honor for Peter. Humility is an attitude we tie around us so we can perform our service better.

Humility then is placing yourself under God’s mighty hand. Pride is standing outside of God’s care. Pride is being my own God. I clothe myself with humility (v5) and I place myself under God’s hand (v6).

Isaiah 40:3-5 is a prophecy of Jesus that says the mountains must be humbled, leveled, or made low for the Messiah. For Jesus to reign in our lives we must keep leveling the mountains of pride.

Why do we try to stand against God’s mighty hand rather than under His hand? Why do we try to fight against God? We forget.

We need to humble ourselves “in order that He may be exalting you all at the proper time.” Remember Elijah. He trusted God and was exalted at the proper time.

5:7 So worry may indicate some pride in areas of my life that I have not yet committed to God.

He does not say cast all your anxiety on Him as it arises, but he says, “Having cast all your anxious care now and in the future on Him, remember He cares for you.”

What do you worry about? An auto accident, a robbery, a job, a relationship, a child, safety, a disease?

Pride is at the root of worry. Worry is looking at circumstances as if I were God. I have forgotten that God cares for me. I have forgotten that God is more concerned about me and those I love than I am. “It is a care to Him concerning you.” So it makes sense to cast all our care on Him.

This is an active commitment evidenced by doing my part as a steward of God’s grace.

5:8 Trust in God is evidenced by doing good. Jesus trusted God completely and went about doing good.

You don’t cast all your care on God and then go live it up. Don’t get drunk with any intoxicants. Keep awake physically and spiritually. The Devil is trying to introduce a lawsuit against you. He’s bringing false charges against you like a roaring lion, hungry for anything. He wants to digest somebody. People who continue to do good taste bitter to roaring lions.

5:9 If we trust God, we are not tasty to lions. We will be a repulsive smell. We can do good and resist Him because He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. Doing good protects us against temptations.

We cannot fight against Satan in our own strength. It is Christ in us. His attitude makes us officers in the Special Services. Our major weapon is love. We overcome evil with good. We can stand firm and resist because of the power at work within us. We are overcomers by doing good. Those that endure to the end will be saved. We humble ourselves and stand under God’s care.

Peter has said all of us should be humble, trust God, discipline ourselves, resist the Devil, and remember our brothers, but verse 10 assures us that God is the one who gives us strength.

If we are humble, God does 4 things: 1. He will restore us. 2. He will protect us. 3. He will make us strong. 4. He will make us buildable.

This is the exciting truth of strength in humility. We bind ourselves with humility because we believe God will make us strong at the proper time. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Let’s look briefly at these 4 words.

Restore has the idea of adjustment. It is used in Mark 1:19 for mending nets. The disciples were adjusting the knots to make the net more functional, to add strength. It is also used of resetting a bone that is out of joint.

As we live holy lives, God makes adjustments to make us more useful. He resets the noses that get bent out of joint.

Protect or set firmly is to make steadfast. Jesus used this same word in His command to Peter in Luke 22:32. He said when Peter repented that God would set him firm. When you repent God makes you firm, nothing can shake you. You can stand upright and immovable.

Make strong is a unique word only used here in the N.T. It seems to suggest some offensive capability. We have strength to defeat the enemy in God’s strength.

Buildable may refer back to chapter 2 when Peter was comparing us to living stones. The suffering has shaped us and polished us and made us buildable like the Chief Cornerstone. Be humble (lay on your face) and stand firm.

If you feel vulnerable and under Satan’s attack, humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. The world may see you as weak, laying on your face. But Satan sees you as standing firm with the flavor of Christ.

A simple fact may help you understand the atmosphere of this letter a little better. 1 P 1:2 “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” Dan 4:1 and 6:25 is the same words in the Septuagint. 1 P 5:13 suggests that Peter had been reading the story of Daniel. Daniel showed us how to be righteous in a foreign land. Daniel received status, but was considered an alien all his life. Peter addresses this letter to aliens. He compares their situation to Daniel’s.

We can be like Daniel. This world is not our home. We belong to a different Kingdom. We can be an influence for good in a corrupt culture.

4:11 God is our life’s ‘choreographer’.

4:17 It is better to suffer people’s judgment now than God’s judgment later.

5:5 Better to be simple because God opposes the proud.

5:8 Humility has a bitter taste to Satan.

5:13 Peter has been reading the story of Daniel.

Psalm 116:6 (KJV) “The Lord preserveth the simple.”

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