Summary: Exposition of 1 Peter 5:6-7
How Healthy Churches Go through Trials
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
How does a healthy church go through trials?
The conclusion is often the most important part of a book or movie. It is there you make your closing arguments and declare what you most want your reader to leave with. Here at the end of Peter’s epistle, it is no different. He leaves this letter on suffering and being a pilgrim in a foreign and ungodly world with some exhortations and encouragements for the church.
In 1 Peter 5:1-5, we started looking at what a healthy church looks like. In the beginning of the chapter, Peter spoke “to the Elders among” them (5:1). This tells us the letter was not just written to scattered Christians but to local congregations that had scattered. He challenges them to be healthy. He called the elders to lead properly in the church; he called the young men, who possibly were being antagonistic to the leadership, to submit. He spoke to the whole church commanding them to put on the cloth of humility in order to serve one another (v. 5).
Healthy churches have godly leadership who are eager to serve and care for the flock, but they also have members who submit to the vision of the leadership and serve the church. They don’t typically have many unfulfilled roles in the children’s ministry or the youth ministry. Why? It’s because everybody has humbly put on the servant’s garment, and they are seeking to serve one another.
But now, as he concludes, he returns to the primary theme of the letter and speaks about suffering. How should church communities suffer together? Suffering can be a great thing. We see this individually, as trials can make us more patient, peaceful, loving and caring, or it can do the opposite. Suffering can cripple us and leave us with many emotional scars. We can become more fearful, anxious, depressed, angry and even violent. It can either help us or hurt us, and it’s no different with the church.
Similarly, it is God’s desire to use trials corporately in the life of congregations to help them mature. It may come in persecutions like here with the congregations in Asia Minor. It may come in the form of conflict between church members as seen in the Philippian church (Phil 4:2). It can be through false teachers as in Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3) or a member in the church who needs discipline as with Corinth (1 Cor 5).
God forbid that it be his will for any of us to go through these difficulties at our home church, but even if it is his will, we must have a proper view of trials as Scripture teaches, and we must know how to respond to the trials as a community.
As we look at this text, we must ask ourselves, “How do healthy churches & church members go through trials?” Many congregations split or members move when things aren’t good because they have never learned how to go through trials as a community. Scripture often compares the church to a family. In 1 Timothy 5:1-2, Paul calls Timothy to treat the older men in the church as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters with absolute purity. Do healthy families break up when they go through problems? No! They should get closer and more intimate. It should be the same with healthy churches.
How do healthy churches go through hardship together? In this passage we will see three characteristics of how healthy churches respond to trials.
Big Question: How does Peter command the scattered congregations to respond to their trials in 1 Peter 5:6-7? What characteristics can we learn about healthy churches through this text?
Healthy Churches Recognize, Trust, and Submit to God in Trials
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Not only are healthy churches humble before one another by taking on the servant’s apron and serving others (1 Peter 5:5), healthy churches are also humble before God. Peter says “humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand.”
Interpretation Question: What does it mean to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand?
1. To humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand means to recognize that God is in control of the trial.
How do we know this is referring to submitting to God while in trials? We see that from the context which has been suffering throughout the letter (1 Peter 4:12). But we also see this from Peter’s next comment “that he may lift you up in due time (v. 6).” These believers who were suffering must recognize God’s hand in the midst of their trials and humbly submit to it. They must persevere so God could lift them up in his time.