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 (1 Peter 5:5–6, esv).
This is an awesome truth: God opposes the proud. The particular brand of pride Peter is referring to in his letter is refusal to submit to an authority in our lives—a boss, coach, mentor, elder, teacher, pastor, spouse.
Why do we get bent and rebellious? Because someone else is in control, and we’re not. Because an authority’s expectations grate on us, and we want to choose our own way. Because we want specific things to happen in our lives, and those things are not happening. So we get rebellious and think, I will make it happen. I’ll take control and get what I deserve, and no one is going to stop me.
That’s pure rebellion. Consider the underlying problem: when you resist authority and refuse to submit, you have become overly focused on the human authority in your life. Behind that person is God. When you proudly resist human authority, God Himself will oppose you—which is a terrifying, sobering thought. He ensures your attitude of rebellion will never take you to a good place.
You might protest, “But my situation is different. What’s happening to me is so unjust. I’m being treated unfairly. It’s not right.” You may be correct, but that doesn’t change God’s answer: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (5:6). Clawing your way to a position of success or opportunity may seem appealing, but it is far more rewarding to wait, trust God, and see Him put you in that place. Then you know with certainty He wanted you there.
At some point, we all have to deal with someone in authority who is unreasonable. If we bear up under unjust suffering, we receive favor from God (1 Peter 2:19–20). But if the problem is our own fault, God is not commending us for hanging in there. More likely He’s thinking, I wish they would stop rebelling. It would save them so much pain and bring us closer together. We find favor with God when we endure for the right reasons—and submission invites His favor.
God loves heartfelt, willing humility. When He sees you bearing up under injustice with a submissive spirit, get ready to be blessed. The Lord instructs you to submit and honors you when you do. As you reflect on the history of your life, you will likely see a pattern: seasons of struggle when you have chosen to submit to difficult authorities, followed by abundant favor and blessings from God.
Have you found this pattern of struggle, submission, blessing to be true in your life? With God, the way up is down. The next time an authority grates on you, rather than demanding your way, try submission. Remember, when you submit to a human authority, you are submitting to God—who opposes the proud, and gives grace to the humble.
Lord God, I admit I like my own way too much. Though it feels easy to submit to some people sometimes, I find it very hard to submit to _____. Please help me to see that when I submit to that person, I’m really submitting to You. I choose to humble myself and wait for You to lift me up—at the right time, in the way You have in mind. Thank You for Your grace. In Jesus’ name, amen.