"So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of sufferings are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen."
1 Peter 5:1-11
Last Sunday night we were reminded by Pastor Mark of the contrast between great faith and little faith. That was the contrast he set forth for that sermon.
When you think about that, Peter is going within seconds or maybe minutes from great faith to little faith. The same person. We don’t know how long exactly it was but maybe less than five minutes after walking on water he is sinking. It is a reminder that fear and anxiety can creep on us very quickly, suddenly, and we can easily be overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. Oftentimes fear and anxiety works the other way, slowly, like a boa constrictor or python that kind of strangles you, it chokes you. In fact the word anxiety in its very original meaning means “to strangle”. That is often what worry and anxiety does. It sort of strangles us. But sometimes it can come very quickly and suddenly. And Peter is not the only one. In the Old Testament you have Elijah on top of Mt. Carmel. Remember what a man of courage, of great faith as he takes on those false prophets. Then later on what is he doing? He is running, he is running scared from Jezebel’s sword. So you could say on the one hand great faith and not long after, “Oh you of little faith.” So we go from Mt. Carmel to running from Jezebel. It is similar with Peter here. Thankfully Peter’s faith and Elijah’s does not implode. True faith never does. It will always, always persevere. No matter how small it might sometimes appear to be it will never completely disappear.
But it does seem like Peter had a besetting problem with fear and anxiety. Dr. John MacArthur says, “The apostle Peter was a worrier. He worried about drowning when he was walking on water even though Jesus was right with him. He worried about what was going to happen to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane so he pulled out a sword and tried to take on a battalion of Roman soldiers. Remember he worried and was overtaken with fear and denied his Lord three times. And on one occasion Paul had to address him in Galatians 2 because he refused to eat with the Gentiles; because of the Jews he feared the circumcision party.” I say all that to say this, Peter was a worrier. I think that could be argued.
Here in 1 Peter 5 Peter addresses this whole issue of worry. He is acting as a wise counselor and a good physician; isn’t that the way it often works. Sometimes the things that we struggle with, the sins that we struggle with, often God enables us to help others because we know something of the struggle. So we can come along and be a helper to others who struggle with the same particular sin. So Peter here is a good, wise counselor and physician. He is going to try to help us deal with worry and anxiety which is a common experience to every one of us.
What is the remedy? He gives several remedies here and I will focus on two. In 1 Peter 5:6 he fires off a command, “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.” It has often been said that one of the sins that lies behind worry is pride. Worry means that we are not in control, pride wants to be in control. Sometimes that is why we struggle with worry, because of our pride, humble yourselves. That is the first thing he tells us to do here is acquaint yourself with God, you have to know him. He focuses upon his mighty hand. He has a mighty hand and he can help you in any situation, any problem you face. Don’t forget God has a mighty hand. He is bigger than any difficulty, than any problem you have.
There is something else he wants you to know about God, he has a mighty hand and he also has a caring heart. Do you see those two things put together? Verse 7, “Cast all your anxiety upon him because he cares for you.”
So if you believe God has a mighty hand and God has a caring heart it is pretty clear what you should do. Remember what Peter did, he cried out to Jesus for help. He believed Jesus had a mighty hand and a caring heart. What we have to do is avail ourselves of the means of grace. We have that hymn,
What a Friend we have in Jesus, our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.
What peace we often forfeit, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
And another hymn,
Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer
That calls me from a world of care
And bids me at my Father’s throne,
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In this passage of 1 Peter 5, Peter uses a very strong verb, “Casting ALL your cares.” It is a very decisive, deliberate, energetic verb. Casting. I like the way Dr. Alistair Begg illustrates it. He says, “It could be described as throwing out a bag of trash or garbage. You don’t do that in a painstaking way or effort way, you don’t take your time. You just throw it. Like those guys that pick up your garbage, you just cast it into the back of the garbage truck. We just cast it into the bin or the garbage.” That is what he is telling us here. When you are pressed down with burdens of anxiety, what do you do? Get rid of it as fast as you can. Cast it, throw it, hurl it onto your God, who has a mighty hand and a caring heart.
What we often do if we are honest, is we mull over and run over in our minds and hearts a thousand times over those things that worry us. We get on treadmills or that hamster wheel. What he is telling us here is, “No, here is what you do Christian, you cast it, you deliberately and decisively cast it upon him.”