How do you end a letter? Well I guess most of us don’t write letters anymore. Maybe a better question would be how do you end a conversation, (telephone, social media, chat, in person), when you know you may not see, (or be able to communicate with), that person for a very long time? This is something we don’t really grasp because communication is so easy today thanks to technology. But it is important we try and understand this concept for us to appreciate 1 Peter 5.
Throughout the book of 1 Peter, Peter has encouraged, challenged and exhorted these believers about their walk with Christ. As he comes to the end of his letter, not knowing the next time he may see or communicate with them, (Peter does communicate with them again in 2 Peter), he leaves them with a number of important points to consider. Lets take a look at some of Peter’s final exhortations in 1 Peter to see what important truths Peter believed needed to be communicated at the end of his letter.
First, leaders need to lead well. 1 Peter 5:1-4 says “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” If you are a leader in the Church or in ministry, you must remember why you are doing your job. Never lose sight of this, even in difficult times.
Next, followers need to follow well. 1 Peter 5:5 tells us, “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.” Our role as those not in Church/ministry leadership is to humbly submit ourselves to the leaders God has put over us. Pride kills this relationship. If we think we are smarter, better or more equipped than those leading us, we won’t be able to submit and follow their lead.
Third, humbly submit and depend on God. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” As we strive to humbly submit to our leaders, it is ultimately God who we are submitting to. Submission can seem scary because it makes us feel like we are not in control. But when by humbly trusting in God, (and the leaders He has put over us), we can cast our worries on Him that may come from our lack of control.
Fourth, prepare to suffer in the battle. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” Even though we have good leaders and an amazingly good and powerful God, we should be prepared for the enemy and his attacks. Satan will use many tactics to get us to walk away from God. But one of his favorites is suffering. People are often more prone to throw in the towel and walk away from God when there is some hardship or suffering they can’t explain. As Christians, we should be prepared for this attack and be ready to resist the devil by remaining firm in our faith.
Finally, God will see you through. 1 Peter 5:10-11 tells us, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” As we face suffering in this life, we can be encouraged to endure because there is a glorious end to our suffering. Not in our victory but in the victory of Christ. One day, He will make all things right. So don’t give up! Keep on enduring whatever you are facing today because Jesus Christ Himself will “restore, confirm, strengthen and establish YOU!”
Peter’s commendations for the early Church are the same for us today. Out of everything Peter could have chosen to end a letter, these are the final challenges and exhortations he gives in 1 Peter 5. Thus, Peter must have thought these were quite important to include them here at the end of his letter. As we are living in the “end times” (and it seems more and more like the end each passing day in 2020), we would be wise to consider Peter’s words and use them to examine our own lives. May we all hold fast to our faith by allowing the Word of God to strengthen and encourage us.