I was looking at 1 Peter 5:6 in my Greek Bible a while ago and when I looked at the first word (the main verb) in the Greek, I was surprised to find it was an imperative (a command). I hadn’t thought much about it, but this made me think about this verse more carefully (as the original languages tend to do).
I don’t know about you, but I’ve often asked the Lord to humble me. However, this verse assumes that He already is.
This command is in the passive, indicating it is something that happens to us, not so much something we actively do. How, then do we obey a command to do something that is done to us? The rest of the verse makes this clear.
The verse reads, “Be humbled (!) under the mighty hand of God…” This assumes that God’s mighty hand is at work and that they are the mechanism or the means by which we can be humbled. In other words, the command essentially is to allow the circumstances of life to cause your humiliation.
We either resist the work of God, or we respond in such a way so that we allow it to humble us.
How do we know which we are doing? If we are responding to our circumstances rightly.
If we are grumbling and murmuring, we are not allowing our circumstances to humble us. If we are having a pity party, we are not letting the hand of God humble us.
If however, we are trusting God and letting Him have His way, repenting of our arrogant responses, we will be letting him humble us.
When you pray, don’t pray that God would humble you, he is already working on it. Pray that He will help you learn to respond Biblically (i.e. obediently) to the circumstances He has put you into. By denying yourself and joyfully and obediently responding in a manner appropriate to your circumstances, you will be humbling yourself and obeying this command. Humility then is in a sense a fruit of obedience to God.
- God’s mighty hand works for us, and so we can thank Him and humble ourselves (or be humble)
- God’s mighty hand determines our circumstances, and even our afflictions and trials, so we can accept His sovereignty and trust Him, and humble oursleves (or be humble)
- God’s mighty hand works through us, and so we can rejoice at the wonder that he would use wretches such as us, and so humble ourselves (or be humble)
- God’s mighty hand places (perhaps bad) people in authority over us, and we can humble ourselves by joyfully submitting to them (or being humble) and praying for them.
You get the idea…
When I came across this, it transformed the way I think about the acquisition of humility. Perhaps it will be useful to you too.
FWIW, “the mighty hand of God” is an OT term (Ex 3:19, Deut 3:23, 4:34, 9:29, Dan 9:15, 2 Chron 6:32, Ezek 20:34) and it often (though not always) has reference to the exodus from Egypt. The idea is “the dread power of the great Judge” (International Critical Commentary on 1 Peter, p 192).