Shelby G. Floyd
It is human nature to resist submitting to authority. And yet the Bible commands us to “humble ourselves.” In discussing the role of the elders of the church, Peter declared that they are to “shepherd the flock,” and to “take the oversight” of the congregation. In taking this responsibility, the bishops or elders are to superintend and direct the life of each local congregation: “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be…” (1 Peter 5:1-2 NIV).
Peter who had to learn humility himself, in his mature years of life declared to his readers that those who are younger must be subject to the elders of the church:
1 Peter 5:5
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.”
In a democratic country like America, it is sometimes difficult for people to submit to authority. But the church or kingdom of God is a monarchy with Christ the king ruling over his people. The king has delegated to the elders the authority to superintend the congregation: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17 NIV). Many of the problems in the local congregation are the refusal to respect and submit to the shepherds of the flock. However, the elders are also to “humble themselves” and not act like dictatorial tyrants by “lording” over the charge allotted to them by the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:3).
The answer to pride and arrogance is to “clothe yourselves” with humility (1 Peter 5:5). The verb “clothe yourselves” is derived from a word that meant to tie a knot in an apron worn by slaves to distinguish them from freemen. We are at the same time the Lord’s freemen and his bondservants. We are to serve God and one another in the spirit of humility: “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 (1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV).
As in all things Christ is our best example. He humbled himself and tied a knot in his apron and stooped down and washed the disciples feet when none of them would (John 13:10-17). But, his greatest example is when he humbled himself on the cross for our salvation:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If we will humble ourselves Christ will lift us up from the grave and exalt us to eternal glory in heaven.
Copyright © 2015 Shelby G. Floyd All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142