Sermon by Rev. Lance Filio
To summarize last week’s preaching, let us conclude by saying that the Proud and the Humble respond to afflictions in two opposite ways and attitude. Pride ruins everything for the Proud while humility brings peace to the Humble. While each of them experience affliction from the hand of providence, they respond according to the judgment and mercy of God. The Proud resist God and his will. So God judges them and left them to deal with afflictions using nothing but their fleshly sinful resources. On the other hand, the Humble submits to God’s will and because of God’s tender mercy, they are lifted up by God’s grace.
We will end our preaching today about God’s sovereignty, afflictions and humility by studying 1 Peter 5:6. The apostle Peter wrote this letter to his sojourning congregation scattered in Asia as exiles. He encourages them to stand with faith in the midst of suffering persecution. He exhorts them to live humbly before God and men. He teaches them to live patiently in times of adversity for surely God’s exaltation is not delayed. God will lift them up according to his perfect will and timing.
Our text this morning will be preached in two sermon points: 1) Our Christian duty of humility; 2) Our God’s promise of exaltation. Again, before we begin, let us pray.
Our Christian Duty of Humility
1 Peter 5:6 – “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…”
The context of 1 Peter 5 is godly living. It is an exhortation to the elders and the congregation to serve and submit to one another. Specifically, submission is the focus on this chapter but overall theme of the book is faithfulness to God in the midst of suffering. Peter was reminding his readers that humble submission is vital to godly living. Humility is the way we demonstrate fidelity to God. And the instrument God used bring out this fruit in his people is by allowing them to suffer during humbling circumstance.
Now, humbling circumstances in this books context speaks of the persecution early Christians suffer in the hand of their oppressor. Yesterday in our ancient church history class we were reminder how God used persecution as an instrument to the growth of Christianity to the pagan world. And while we may not suffer any direct persecution for our faith today, humbling circumstance here may also mean the poor, weak or unhealthy estate one may experience as crooks in this lot.
So in our text, Peter issues a command for his readers to respond in humility when suffering come. It is an exhortation to humble ourselves before God who sovereignly appoints both our crooks as well as our lots. Our apostle here reminds us to yield when God’s mighty hand is upon us. He wants us to accept the responsibility of godly living and face the challenge God brought in our circumstance with an attitude of bowing down before him and his will. But Until when? According to our text, we continually humble ourselves before God until he lifts us up from situation. We wait until God removes us from the crook but while we are under it, our responsibility is to lower our spirits towards our circumstance and not lift ourselves from it to match our proud spirits. Simply put, humility is our responsibility and God’s role is to exalt in his proper time.
Now exalting means to lift us up from any lowered estate. It is by God’s action and while he sovereignly appoints the time for it, we need to remind ourselves that this is a sure work. He will indeed lift us up. Boston explains the force of connection between humility and exaltation in this portion of his book. In the text, he exegetes the term “so that at the proper time, he may exalt you”, not as the resulting effect caused by our humble dispositions but as a God appointed means to his appointed end. God ordained our humility by appointment for by it, he exalts us. Apostle James in his book from chapter 4 verse 10 issues a similar exhortation where it reads, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” The connection between the two clauses is chronological. Exaltation comes after humility.
Our God’s Promise of Exaltation
Now, God’s promise of exaltation come in his appointed time. Going back to our verse, it reads, “so that at the proper time…”. But the act of lifting up while will surely happen does not follow man’s prerogative but by God’s timing. That will it is sure, it will either happen partially here on earth but definitely there in heaven. Solomon wisely reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” There is listed down circumstances that follows the seasons of life. And in verse 11, he concludes, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
God’s timing is perfect. It is always wise to wait on Him. The psalmist sings, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage, wait for the Lord! (Psalms 27:14)” When I was growing up I learned how God answers prayers not two but in three ways. He either grants it by saying Yes or denies it by saying No, and he asks us to wait until he lifts us up. There is wisdom to this counsel. God is not undecided, and changing his mind when we pray for his deliverance during times of suffering. He is simply exercising his sovereignty over our lives. He is giving us the grace to exercise patience. And if he asks us to wait on him, we are called to humbly wait on him.
Prior to answering the call to minister in ZCRC (Imus), I have been resigned as a pastor from my home church. I was struggling with my own convictions and I was beginning to become convinced of the error my denomination was committing and questioning myself for standing with them even when I know it was wrong. And when my father got side-tracked by the church whom he served his whole life, I knew I will suffer the same fate if I choose to stay. But leaving a denomination and the legacy of my family in the ministry will prove humiliating to me. And yet, I knew then it is better to suffer ridicule than the flattering praises of men. I resigned with no prospect of serving another church. It was the lowest point of my ministry as a pastor. I decided to bring my family to ZCRC(Imus) and become a member there instead. But by God’s sovereignty, the consistory moved to call me as their pastor. I thought my ministry ended with my previous denomination and yet God planned it for me to serve our church as a reformed pastor. I began my ministry here as a minister of the Word and Sacrament partially in 2014 and In 2015, I began officially when I got installed October. It has been 4 years now going 5 and I will always be grateful to God for allowing me serve you as your pastor.
So are you praying for God to partially lift you up from a humbling circumstance in your life? God promises deliverance. Hear these words from God: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32). The answer to this hypothetical question is nothing. The Father gave us everything, he gave his only begotten son. So even when we suffer lowered and humbling circumstances in this life, he will surely lift us up.
ZCRC (Imus), take heart! God promises to end all of suffering. Let us humble ourselves before God and wait on him, Amen.