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By these three words in 5:6 Peter reminds us of the sovereign power and authority of God. He tells us ‘humble yourselves ... under God’s mighty hand’ [5:6].

Behind all of the other commands to submission and humility in all of the various human relationships in which we find ourselves is this: that we are to be submissive and humble in the presence of God. Each other submission is an expression of our submission to God.

When Peter commanded us to submit to the ruling authorities it was ‘for the Lord’s sake’ and ‘God’s will’ and ‘as servants of God’ [2:13,15,16].

When Peter commanded us to be submissive under unjust suffering it was because we are ‘conscious of God’ and because it is ‘commendable before God’ [2:19,20].

In giving us the example of the submissive spirit of Jesus under unjust suffering Peter tells us Jesus ‘entrusted himself to him who judges justly’ [2:23].

When commanding wives to be submissive to their husbands he explains that this quietness of spirit ‘is of great worth in God’s sight’ [3:4].

When commanding husbands to be considerate and respectful of their wives he indicates that this had implications for their reliance on God [3:7].

When he commands us to be humble in our relationships with our fellow-believers he taught that such a submissive mind is consistent with God’s call, God’s inheritance, God’s blessing and God’s care [3:8-12].

When he commands elders to serve the community of believers in an attitude of humble submission he explained that the people they are serving are God’s flock and that their service should be done how God wants it to be done [5:2].

And generally, when he commands humility it is because of God’s opposition to the proud and graciousness towards the humble [5:5].

In all of these inter-personal situations, it is not a question of whether or not the other person is worthy of our submission. Nor is it a question of whether or not the other person is demanding or enforcing our submission. It is the question: Are we, in this good or bad relationship or situation, humbling ourselves under God’s mighty hand? Or, as Peter put it in 4:15, are we, in our hearts, setting apart Christ as Lord in this situation or relationship?

Our attitudes, words and actions in each of our human relationships reflect the nature and quality of our relationship and response to God. Although, in Christ and because of Christ, our relationship with God is one of knowing God, peace with God and acceptance by God, how we live our lives reveals an on-going inconsistency between who we are in Christ and who we are in our daily lives.

We do believe in God and we do believe God, but we do not always trust God.

We do acknowledge Christ as Lord, but we do not always obey him as Lord.

Practically speaking, our trust and obedience have not caught up with our identity and position as children of God. Because our trust and obedience towards God are challenged in our various relationships we do not find it easy to be humble and submissive towards others. It is not something that comes naturally to most of us. [Indeed, the issue of submission to God is at the heart of the original sin in Genesis 3.]

To encourage us to submit to God with trust and obedience in every relationship and situation Peter tells us:

‘Humble yourselves ... under God’s mighty hand.’ God is in control. It may not look like it. It may not feel like it. But he is. In due time he will lift you up. So do not give up trusting him, do not give up obeying him, regardless of the situation.

‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’ It may not feel like it at the moment. There may be every reason for anxiety. But remember what Peter has told you about the glorious and secure salvation that you have in Christ and know that God cares for you. God is interested in you. God is concerned about you. It matters to him what happens to you. You are extremely precious to him.

These two truths – the power of God and love of God – each multiply the impact of the other. If God were powerful but did not love us, that would be a frightening thing. If God loved us, but was powerless to do anything for us, that would be a useless thing. But both are true. The death of Jesus Christ for us proves and demonstrates God’s love for us. The resurrection and glorification of Jesus Christ demonstrate and prove the power of God that is active in saving us and keeping us saved.

Peter commands us to respond to this amazing God with appropriate submission in all the relationships of our lives.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2018