I Peter 5

I Peter 5: Stand Fast!

One of my personal verses is I Corinthians 10: 13 which states:  “ No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will provide a way so that you can stand up under it.”   As I learned in AA, the stories of other people were similar to mine.  Mine was not an exclusive situation, unlike any other, in fact, my story was common to this group.

In effect, this is what Peter is saying about the fiery trials we endure.  “ Beloved ( dear friends) think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:” ( I Peter 4: 12)   In other words when you embrace Christianity you will face trials and one should not consider it strange. So like the verse in Corinthians it tells us this is to be expected, even common;- in the same way, fiery trials are to be expected and we should not be surprised.

The Word of God is making it clear to us that suffering is a part of the Christian life. Suffering, these fiery trials also develops our character.  Notice the KJV uses the phrase- ‘try you.’  Try is another word for test. Paul writes in Romans 5- suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance – character and character –  produces hope that does not disappoint. The Lord Jesus Himself told us in this world we would have trouble.

From these verses and many others we can conclude:  there is no reason for Christians to wonder at the unkindness of the world because we were certainly forewarned. Peter’s instruction is to rejoice in your sufferings – James said to count it all a joy. However, if you suffer make sure it is not as a –‘ murderer, or thief, or evildoer or busybody in other men’s matters.’(KJV I Peter 4:15)  Interesting that Peter links gossiping, meddling and criticizing right in there with murder.  Peter is telling us as Christians we should not be suffering for sins- but for righteousness. Hebrews 12 reminds us – ‘whom the Lord loves He disciplines. So when the Lord is disciplining you for sin- this is not suffering- it is God’s discipline. That is why Hebrews 12 reminds us in our struggle against sin- we have not resisted to the point of shedding blood. This passage goes on to explain the Lord’s discipline produces a harvest of righteousness (obedience) and peace for those who are trained by it.  Notice the link between peace and obedience.

Peter then tells his audience:  “ For its time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the Gospel of God? “ If one puts Peter’s letter and reference to fiery trials in the context of what was happening at that time in history, the Christians were being persecuted and would be made a spectacle of in the Roman Coliseum.  Listen to these accounts of suffering:  ‘ some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death with the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. ‘ (Hebrews 11)

Bottom line:  Suffering produces obedience to the will of God.   In fact when life is good and the living is easy- when the cotton is high and the catfish are jumping- we become spiritually lazy. Thinking we are being blessed because we are such good Christians.  But to have it easy all the time causes us to become spiritually lethargic. God permits his children to suffer in order to keep us from sin and to have the proper view of life. Suffering will remove a layer of dross and give you a new direction in life.   Testing and trials and adversity have the following impact on our lives: they purify our faith; enlarge our faith and prove our faith.  Also having suffered it equips us to have compassion for others while at the same time it has as its purpose to conform us to the image of Christ.  Suffering and pain will rearrange your priorities unlike anything else. All of sudden your 401K and your vacation plans- become insignificant.  And you wonder what was I thinking?  Why had these ‘things’ become such a distraction?

Peter then makes a comment- ‘ if it is hard for the righteous to be saved- what will happen to the ungodly and the sinner?  If we suffer in this world as believers, can you imagine the heavier judgment coming upon unrepentant sinners?

I just know for myself, I scarcely got saved. But He who saves- saves to the uttermost. So we should do as Peter admonishes us to do:  when we suffer according to Gods’ will, we should commit ourselves all the more to our faithful Creator and continue to do good.


Now in the closing part of Peter’s first letter, we come to some familiar verses which deal with a problem most of us are well acquainted with- anxiety.  Anxiety is defined as a feeling  of worry, a troubled state of mind, nervousness, unease about  an event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Worry as a Christian is taking responsibility we were not supposed to  take.  We will explore several verses with quotes from the Lord Jesus Himself, Paul and Peter.

Let’s first explore some verses of instruction and encouragement for what I know is something each of us face.

Anxiety or worry causes stress.  Stress is our emotional and physical response to the pressures of life. It is destructive and the cause of much physical illness and depression.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way that we were , yet without sin.  Therefore, Jesus certainly knew stress and had much to worry about- in fact the fate of all mankind was riding on his accomplishment of the mission he was sent to accomplish.  In addition the Lord Jesus was training a group of 11 men to carry on this task and God’s will after he left. Here are two incidents we have recorded in the Gospels:  In Matthew 26 on the night of his arrest we read: “ My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me,” Jesus said to Peter, John and James. And again in Luke 12: “ I have come to bring fire on the earth and how I wish it were already kindled. But I have a baptism to undergo and how distressed I am until it is completed!: ( NIV)    We find the clue to how Jesus faced the stress of each day:   “ Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” ( Mark 1: 35)  This was how Jesus started each day and sometimes he prayed all night.  Prayer was how he dealt with stress and worry when tempted to worry about troubling circumstances.

In Matthew 6, Jesus who is called Wonderful Counselor offers some investment advice:  “ Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break into steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” If your treasure is in your financial worth and possessions, not only must you guard against loss – you must constantly maintain and insure them. If your treasure is in other people, you can only experience peace when they are living up to your expectations.   It can be a constant source of worry and anxiety.  Jesus says if you lay up your treasures in heaven you do not have to worry about loss. These verses prompted missionary, Jim Elliot to say: “ A man is no fool to give up what he cannot keep for that which he can never lose.

How are you investing your life?  Would you not like a ‘ worry-free’ investment plan?

Jesus went on to say not only is this a cause of stress and worry, but it can become your master. For what we treasure – is what matters the most to us. And no man can serve two masters for he will hate the one and love the other. You cannot serve God and mammon ( money). Money in and of itself is neutral- it is the  love of money that is the root of all types of trouble. Quite often money represents to a person, their self worth and their independence from God and circumstances.

Then the Lord could not be any clearer:  “ Do not worry about your life, what you will eat and drink or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes.”  The Lord then gives two contrasting comparisons that settle any concerns we have in not trusting our Heavenly Father.  He said if your Heavenly Father feeds the birds of the air, who do not sow or reap or store in barns, how much more valuable are you than they?  And as far as clothes the Lord said consider the lilies of the field- they do not labor or spin yet not even Solomon in all his splendor ever dressed like one of these.  Think about what Jesus said- if your Heavenly Father clothes the grass of the field  which is here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow- will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  “ These two comparisons provide a contrast  which provides clarity. The Lord Jesus  tells us a Father and Creator who cares for the birds and the flowers of the field, how much more will He do for us, His own children. And in another place, Jesus said if you, earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to your children and we are wicked, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.

And I like what Jesus went on to say:  Your Heavenly Father knows you have need of these things.  He does not condemn us for wanting these ‘ things’.  What He does not to happen is these gifts, these ‘ things’ to become more important to us than Him.  We must diligently seek Him- not what we can get from Him.

So Jesus gives us a very important principle for dealing with worry and stress: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these ‘things’ will given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  What did Jesus teach his disciples and us in his model prayer ( the Lord’s Prayer)- “ Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, they will be done in earth as it is in heaven…( Matthew 6)  He taught us in prayer, we are to seek first the kingdom of God.  First to me- means first thing on my ‘ to do’ list for the day. It sets the tone.

Paul writes in Philippians 4: 6-7:  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Here again, not only do we see how the Lord Jesus dealt with  the daily pressures by his example of getting up each morning while it was still dark to go and pray; Paul instructs us to face our anxieties with prayer.

How can we not worry about real troubling circumstances? Real problems- not imagined – but honest-to-goodness problems.  First of all when real problems and troubling circumstances come into our life – we know that worrying about them does not solve the problem- it only makes the problem worse, because we are not allowing God in His Sovereign will and time to work things out. We are in fact by worrying- putting up a barrier to God’s solutions. Instead of worrying about it- pray about it.

Whenever there is a problem, a legitimate concern, what we all want is a solution to our problem and how to resolve the troubling issues.(Concern is different from worry, in that concern prompts one to prayerfully seek the steps of action to take. Worry is futile and never solves the problem or else God would have given us instruction how to worry effectively, instead of telling us to  worry about nothing.) The busier we are the easier it is to worry.  The greater the temptation is to worry- the more we need to get alone with God. Break the habit of worry with the habit of prayer is what Paul is saying and the Lord Jesus was modeling this habit before his disciples.  Why take matters into your own hands- when the Lord has invited you to come to Him all you who are worried, anxious, stressed and heavy laden and I will give you rest- He promised. ( Matthew 11)  Do you not believe Him?  Do you not trust Him to do what He said He would do?  Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.” ( Proverbs 3)

Let’s look at what Peter instructs us to do in these verses in I Peter 5:  “ God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 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.”

Peter cites obedience as a stress reducer.  Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand is saying get under God’s authority.  Disobedience in the life of a believer will result in stress, worry and anxiety. The farther we go outside God’s protective guidelines, the closer we come to a life of frustration, anxiety, fear and unrest. Sin in the life of a believer causes, worry, anxiety and stress.

Obedience removes a layer of stress that envelopes a believer when they choose to disobey God. Look how stressed Adam and Eve were when they sinned- they were afraid, guilty and hiding from their Creator. Look at the stress that sin caused- lost home, a dysfunctional family that resulted in the murder of their son, Abel, by his own brother, their other son, Cain.  Yes, disobedience always compounds our stress.

Disobedience originates in a decision to exalt ourselves. Adam and Eve thought they would be like God, their desire to exalt themselves caused them to disobey and the stress followed. So humbling ourselves is an important part of the process of reducing stress.

We manage our stress when we cast our cares upon Him. This means we give God the responsibility for things we cannot control.

Begin your day with prayer and in His word. Spend this first part of the day with the Lord in his Word and in prayer. If Jesus felt it was necessary to get up while it was still dark and go out to  solitary place to get alone with God, does it not make sense we should be doing this also? Tell God about the issues and concerns weighing you down. The heavier the burden, the longer it will take, but when you walk away you will feel relief and at peace. He will lift you up in due time.  This is why we are commanded often in scripture to wait upon the Lord.

Anticipate your sources of stress and temptation. Ask God to guide you through the midst of them.

Remember God’s faithfulness in the past.  Keep a journal of prayer requests and petitions as well as God’s answers. David as a shepherd boy had progressed in his experience with God through the killing of a lion and a bear. He knew from experience God could deliver him from this Giant- Goliath.

What giant are you facing?  What successes have you had in the past with God?  Recall how time after time He has come through.

Thoughts are those mental pictures and ideas passing intentionally and unintentionally through the conscious.

“ Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate( think) on these things.” {Phil. 4:8}

How do we change our thinking?  It is a reprogramming process and it takes time and the following four steps are needed:

  1. Recognize you have the mind of Christ. ( I Cor. 2:6) He is abiding in you. The potential is there .
  2. Choose to think rightly. Keep seeking things above and set your mind on things above. ( Col.3:1-2)
  3. Sift your thoughts through the Word of God. ( Heb. 4:12) & ( 2 Cor.!0:5)  These two verses tell us the Word of God is like a two edged sword dividing asunder the thoughts and intentions of the heart and the latter verse tells us how the mighty weapons allow us to take captive thoughts to the obedience of Christ. This is why we are instructed to study to show ourselves approved, a workman who needs not to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.(2 Timothy 2:15)
  4. Refuse to think about some things. The battle is for the mind. Don’t sit and watch something on television you know is wrong and will create the wrong type of thinking.

Meditating on the Word of God is the vital element of reprogramming your thoughts.

Recap:  God’s Word Concerning Your Worries

  1. The Bible does not downplay the existence of problems. Jesus said in John 16:33- “ In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
  2. We are commanded to not worry about anything. Worry is a troubled state of mind resulting from concern about current or future difficulties. Worry comes from an old English word that means ‘ to strangle’
  3. Worrying is a sin because it displays a lack of faith in God’s ability to do what He says He can do. Phil. 4: 19  – “ My God shall supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
  4. Why as Christians should we not worry?  God knows what you have faced and are facing. “ The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down for the Lord upholds him with his hand.(Psalms 37:23)  “ But He knows the way I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” ( Job 23:10)

Prayer brings us into His presence. It is a child coming to his/her father who is the source of all power and wisdom. Nothing is impossible for Him. We bring Him our burdens and worries. Our requests are specific. We are to pray about everything with thanksgiving.

Then we have His promise of peace that passes all understanding. We have His promise of preservation- He will keep our hearts and mind through Christ Jesus.

Peter says when we cast all our cares upon Him who cares for us, ‘Christ Himself will restore us and make us strong, firm and steadfast’. (I Peter 5:10) You do this in prayer- beginning each day with time with the Lord.

Peter closes this first letter after thanking Silas for his help by telling us his reason for this letter:

“ I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14