“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…”
(1 Peter 5:6 ESV)
Most of us would say that we approach God in a humble manner. He is God, after all. He is the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe. He’s the creator and sustainer of all things. He is our source of life both in this world and in the world to come.
We would also say that we approach God in a humble manner because of who we are. We are the creation. We’re limited in power and knowledge. We’re capable of doing only what God has empowered us to accomplish.
We are also a sinful people. Our heart and mind are corrupt. And, as a result of our sin, we’re subject to suffering and death.
However, even though we may sincerely believe this to be true, reality is far different. We rarely approach God in a humble manner. More often than not, we approach him arrogantly. In fact, we often approach him in a condescending manner.
We approach him believing that we know better than him. We look at the way he handles the affairs of our world and we disapprove. We think to ourselves how we would do things differently. We think to ourselves how we would do things better.
We offer our prayers to him, instructing him how he can best answer them. We often give him step by step instructions so that he can better meet our needs and fulfill our desires. And we become frustrated with him when he works in a different manner.
We look to his Word, and we find issues that we disagree with. We don’t like the way he’s ordered the home and society, because it seems sexist. We don’t like his instructions for marriage and divorce because it seems too restrictive. We don’t like what he says regarding issues like homosexuality and gay marriage because it seems old-fashioned and oppressive. And, because of this, we rewrite it. We reinterpret it so that it better fits our desired understanding.
How arrogant! How prideful! How dare we!
We must repent of the many ways we approach God in an arrogant manner. We must confess our sin, seeking his mercy. And we must humble ourselves before him.
Peter then gives to us a wonderful promise. He gives us a promise that echoes the teaching of Jesus. He tells us to humble ourselves so that, at the proper time, God may exalt us.
Jesus says, in Matthew 23:12, that whoever exalts himself will be humbled and that whoever humbles himself will be exalted. In other words, God will bring low those who raise themselves up. But the one who lowers himself, the one who views himself modestly, will be raised up by God.