Are you tired — really weary in life? If so, I invite you to consider a certain reward which, though still unnoticed, may be waiting for you.
The book of I Peter is written to you who are almost overwhelmed. Turn to the last chapter and look at verse 6.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
Notice how this verse closes with encouragement. And so do verses 7 and 10. God really does reward those who are faithful in trial. It may be he is stretching you even to the point of actual suffering. But he will reward you in time.
Perhaps you ask, What kind of a reward is there for me in this furnace of trial? Our text shows clearly God offers you three special demonstrations of his love right now. These are very intimate and personal, belonging only to those who go through deep waters. With your Bible open to I Peter 5, search for the demonstrations of love with which God rewards those who are faithful in testing.
I. HE BRINGS THEM HONOR
Reading verses 5 and 6 together, notice that they culminate in a promise of honor from God himself. Those who are in the crucible of testing, and yet standing true to God, shall be lifted up with an honor that is peculiar to them alone.
This honor — a lifting up — will come “in due time.” It will not be some premature honor that comes to a star born overnight and then is dashed into eternal blackness. No, that is not God’s way.
You remember how the wicked Queen Jezebel had Naboth exalted. They proclaimed his fame in order that they might destroy him that same day. This is not the kind of honor promised here.
This lifting up involves, first of all, the grace of endurance for the difficulty. It is God’s enablement for now and his glory forever beyond. John 12:26 is a most beautiful text.
“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
In the two verses just preceding this, our Savior is calling us to fall into the ground and die like a planted seed in order to bring forth fruit. This is what it costs to be a Christian. If you follow me in this, says Christ, My Father will honor you. Such honor as Jesus gives is not the cheap kind received from the tip of men’s tongues but a wonderful thing, given in due time.
The absolute prerequisite for God’s special honor is humility. Those who endure the humbling will know the lifting. God cannot tolerate pride. He stands against the proud. Verse 5 instructs us to yield to one another in humility “for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
“People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.” Psalm 49:20
How important it is, then, that we be kept humble, for through the humbling God is keeping us alert and sensitive to his dealings. This means we will have to be done with pride. Sometimes God will have to use persecution (real stiff opposition to us) so that we can’t have our own way in the proverbial bed of roses.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” I Peter 4:12
Sometimes, God’s lifting up is simply a secret, inner strengthening of a broken heart, as he gives grace for now and glory by and by.
“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” I Peter 4:14, 19
Here our Lord is calling us to make the very same submission to him in our time of anguish that he made there on the cross to his Father.
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” I Peter 2:23
Therefore, if you would know the reward mentioned at the end of our text (5:6), you will have to pass through the first part of the verse which says “humble yourselves.” Are you willing to accept the situation you are in as being from the mighty hand of God and say, “O God, I put myself under the rule of your mighty hand”? Then you, my friend, may expect to reap in due time if you faint not.
Look now at a second demonstration of God’s love for his tired ones.
II. HE SHOWS PERSONAL CONCERN FOR THEM
The end of verse 7 says, “He cares for you.” That is an intimacy with God that “none but his loved ones know.” He shows a tender and very personal concern for those passing through trial.
Note carefully the phrase “HE cares for YOU.” God is on one end and you are at the other. In between is the precious expression “cares.” He and you are connected with his personal care.
Phillips translates that clause: “You are his personal charge.” Is it not wonderful to be the object of his care, to know he takes responsibility for you? Jesus says, Not a sparrow can fall to the ground without the Father’s notice. You are of more value than many sparrows. Why are you anxious about tomorrow? He has kept you today, has he not? And yesterday? Then do not cross tomorrow’s bridges before you get to them. “He cares for you.”
Do you have a confused picture of God as Father? Does a father come upon his child doing wrong and say, “That’s naughty; take this candy as your reward”? Picture further a father approaching his child who is crying in discouragement over some problem. It seems too much for him and he is sinking under the load. Now, will the father say, “I will punish you for struggling to lift the load”? No, “why did you not call to me?” he will say, “Here, son, let me help you. Get up again. Let’s try it together this time.”
I feel that I should repeat those words again on God’s behalf to some of you who receive this message. “Get up again. Let me help you.” A great part of the Christian life depends on how you get up again. Only through trials and tribulation will we at last enter the heavenly home. Do not be like the spoiled child who, when skinning his knees in a fall, becomes so angry that he slaps away the parent’s hand offering help. Do not do that. God has personal concern for all who are his.
This text offers you a personal dispose-all service for care. “Cast your care upon him,” and he says, I will take all of it in a bundle and rid you of your care package. And notice he says, Throw it! Don’t sit there and moan over it. Take the whole burden before God in prayer saying, “Lord, it’s too much for me. I’m going down under this load. With all my heart and in the name of Jesus Christ, believing this Word of promise, I now cast this care upon you. I accept the situation in which you have placed me, but the inner harassment, the agitation of it, the destructive aspect of it, I roll that upon you.”
Actually, our cares are the things that get through to us, whether little or great. Whatever scrapes and makes raw our feelings is our care. The Lord says we are to turn this care package over to God.
Phillips translates that part of it, “You can throw the whole weight of your anxiety upon him.” Amen to that!
III. HE DEVELOPS THEIR CHARACTER
At the end of verse 10 it says, “The God of all grace…make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” There is a demonstration of love. In this, he is seen developing the character of his afflicted children. This is indeed a special touch of God upon our lives.
A bit of shock comes when one considers what lies between these last two points. Verse 10 will not come to pass until one has passed through verses 7 and 8.
Perhaps you will be surprised at the tools God dares to use in a life in order for a saint to know the perfecting that verse 10 describes. He will have to be conditioned in battle. The rage of Satan will terrorize him. Amid these peculiar trials he is ordered to remain sober, vigilant and alert. Keep sharp with your guard up, says God, because you have an adversary, the great enemy Satan, who is bent on destroying your soul!
Too few people take notice of this. Satan has one objective for boys and girls, men and women — to devour until there is nothing left. God has a different plan for you, however. God intends to strength, purify and develop you.
We are never to say, This is too much for me; I quit. God says, You are to resist. You are to resist steadfast in the faith.
True, there will be times when you feel, I can’t throw this off. Yet you must again take your stand in the Name of Jesus, using aggressive prayer warfare.
Many people have actually made peace with evil dispositions and inner plagues that are destroying their peace. No doubt some receiving this message are agitated, upset, not at peace with God, ill at ease with men, coming apart at the seams of their Christian life — all because of the lack of obedience to this command. Prayerfully read the verses again. You cannot sit passively hoping that somewhere something will happen to set the victory bells ringing in your life. That is promised nowhere to a person who is simply letting his Christian life happen. Friend, Christ has made you more than a conqueror. Stand in the name of Jesus Christ, praying deliberately and definitely, “O Lord, I praise you and I determine by your grace to claim this promise here in the Scripture. I will not anymore be sluggish about it. If the saints of old, even little children, could face their tormentors and confess Christ at the cost of their lives, singing in the face of terrible danger and persecution, surely I can stand now in Jesus name.”
Some of us have all we can do to get over last week’s moods in order that we might do anything this week for the honor of Jesus Christ. Praise breaks the back of the mood monster. Read verse 11.
“To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
“Praise ye the Lord,” and resist steadfast in the faith all these haunting shadows.
Think carefully over the revelation God makes to you in verse 9, “that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” No matter what your struggle is, it is common to man and is found among believers throughout the entire world. Never let Satan trap you into feeling that your affliction is “some strange thing.” (See 4:12)
Your joy is never going to be a matter of escaping difficulty. It comes in knowing how to face trouble and having God’s abundant grace to match it.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” I Peter 5:10
It is not God’s will that you grow sour and give up. In fact, God has a glorious purpose in it all. Strange, is it not, that you have been drawn away from listening to the God of hope and you are now believing the roaring of the devil? There is usually rebellion in hopelessness. In Jeremiah’s day the rebels cried out, “There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will everyone do the imagination of his evil heart.” (Jeremiah 18:12)
My friend, you are perhaps receiving two opposite messages. Listen to the enemy and you will be devoured in your tiredness and discouragement. One the other hand, if you will turn to the gracious God and hear the encouragement from the text, you will live anew.
God is telling you, I will have you perfected — fully equipped, filled out — strong, firm and steadfast. Surely, you want to be that kind of a Christian!
Go over these verses from I Peter 5 again. You will have to obey the first part of each verse. Then you will have the promises which follow.
This will mean accepting testing, inconveniences, difficulties, opposition in quiet humility. Next, take your care in definite prayer and commit it to God. Still further, our text directs you to make use of your troubles in improvement. This might mean taking the very thing you have despised about life and say, “Lord, this is the very scourge I have needed. Improve and develop my heart, making me complete like you want me to be.
Probably, you will not be dramatically shot at dawn for Christ’s sake or be tied to a public stake for beating. But, most likely you will have to stand against some very grinding, ordinary circumstance.
God will turn even that into something of profit if you submit fully to Jesus Christ.
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32
Make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior right now in a prayer of surrender to him. Amen