Focal Passage: 1 Peter 5:6-11
Madonna once said, “No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.” Our culture believes the lie of self-improvement. This lie parades on our television and computer screens and is evident in talk shows, books and movies.
C.S. Lewis said it much better, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” If you’re looking down at someone, or if you’re looking inward to yourself, as Madonna hints above, you’re not looking in the right place. You’re not looking to God.
Peter directs our gaze in the right direction. In the preceding verses, he is giving instructions to the elders and young men scattered throughout Asia Minor. He charges them to humble themselves under God’s mighty hand (v. 6). Notice the contrast from the prideful, self-improvement stance above. They are to cast all their anxiety upon Him (v. 7). In doing these things, God will lift them up. Peter is emphasizing “God-help.”
He also issues three imperatives in verses 8 and 9: “[You] be self-controlled; [You] be alert; [You] resist Satan.” Last week, we talked about how imperatives in the Greek are direct commands. Yet instead of focusing on self-effort, Peter explains how these believers are to obey these imperatives in verse 9 by “standing firm in the faith.” Read about standing firm in the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18.
Peter encourages the believers by giving them hope for the future. He promises God will restore them and make them strong, firm and steadfast because of their present suffering (v. 10). As believers, we too can take hope that regardless of our trials, God will strengthen and restore us. We should not look to “self-help” advice that is inwardly-focused. Instead, we should rely on “God-help,” and recognize that He has given us a victorious faith that is rooted in our triumphant Savior.