This study could actually be part two of our study which began last week because we’re going to be looking at the other side of the coin here. Last week’s study was mainly directed toward the spiritual leadership in the church, and Peter reminded us that as elders, God requires us to faithfully shepherd His flock, to fulfill our role and responsibility in exercising spiritual oversight, so we talked a lot about what our role and responsibility is as leaders in the church. But that has implications and application for you as well. You need to know what God has required of us. Why? So that you can help us do our job, so you can make our job go smoothly in a God-honoring way.
Well this week, we’re going to talk about what is your role and responsibility to spiritual leadership, but not just to spiritual leadership, but to one another in the church. So Peter’s going to address both sides here: what we’re responsible to do, and what your role and responsibility is as well. We were told that we need to lovingly serve. See, spiritual leadership in the church isn’t about lording it over others; it’s about being the servant of others. Our job is to be the chief servants, if we want to be the greatest in the kingdom of God we need to be the servants of all. Now that doesn’t mean we do everything, but it means that we exemplify the kind of servant hood that we call and God calls you to demonstrate towards one another and towards Christ. God showed us the right motive and the right manner for our exercising oversight. Character and conduct that hopefully that you can emulate as you follow our faith.
Now as I said this week in verses five to seven Peter turns his attention from God’s spiritual shepherds to God’s spiritual sheep. God’s got a word for you too in all of this; it’s not just what we need to be doing. You have a responsibility in this as well. And Peter is going to explain what your end of the responsibility is as one of God’s flock. Now Peter says as God’s flock, you’re to practice submission and humility in all relationships and at all times. So if I can just summarize the message today that’s really what Peter is driving home: your role and responsibility and even mine as well in a leadership role is to practice submission and humility in all relationships and at all times. That’s our role, that’s our responsibility and yours as well. That God requires submitting and humility and there are three things he’s going to bring out today: first of all, submitting in humility to spiritual leadership that’s in verse five. Secondly, to one another that’s in verse five, and finally and ultimately, to God Himself. Peter has covered all the bases. You and I, we’re to submit to spiritual leadership, we’re to submit to one another, and ultimately, we’re to submit to God Himself. So, when we say in all relationships and responsibilities we’re to practice submitting and humility, he’s covered it all.
Now I want to read verses one to seven, that will set the context for the study here today and kind of give us a running start at looking at verses five through seven. So follow along with me here in 1 Peter chapter 5 verse 1 we read: “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion but voluntarily, according to the will of God. And not for sordid gain but with eagerness nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge but proving to be examples to the flock and when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. You younger men likewise, be subject to your elders, and all of you, clothe yourself with humility towards one another for God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt you at the proper time casting all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you.” Lord, we do ask that you would just give us ears to hear and wills that are submitted and humble before you, that we might apply the truths that you’ll teach us today. To the glory of Jesus we ask in His name, amen.
Let’s back up to verse five and first of all see the requirement to submit in humility to the spiritual leadership. Verse five it says “you younger men likewise, be subject to your elders.” Now you younger men is a general term, he’s not just talking about males between a certain age when he’s speaking about you younger men it’s a general term for all believers. It includes both men and women. It involves and applies to all who are under God-given spiritual authority.
He is just saying you younger men, other than the spiritual leadership, I am addressing this to you, this is what you are required to do. He says to be subject. Again there is an aorist imperative, it is a command. This is something that we are to once and for all do-to commit to this, to purpose to practice being subject to your elders those who are in spiritual leadership. Now again we have seen this word hupotasso many times in the New Testament. It means to voluntarily rank yourself under another person. It is a military term. It means to fall in rank, line up in order, take your proper position, fulfill you role and responsibility. That is what it means to be subject. And submission is required by God.
As we see this, we are to honor and obey those who He has sovereignly set over you. Now even though God requires it, He wants you to do it willingly, voluntarily, and joyfully-to see that you not only have to, but you get to. And that is the hard part right? He is saying you need to do this but I want you to do so willingly. Now submission to spiritual leadership demonstrates your humility. This is the key point he is bringing out. Submission to the spiritual leadership that God has sovereignly set over you demonstrates your humility before God. If you are unwilling to submit, you are showing pride and not humility before God. Submission under spiritual leadership demonstrates your humility. See, because you’re recognizing their God given authority over you.
You know, it is kind of like when you go to a job and you meet your boss for the first time. You recognize the position that that person has. He is your boss; he has a right to tell you what to do and what not to when you’re on the job. Well it is the same way in the church. Spiritual leadership has a right to tell you what to do and what not to do-Scripturally we are talking about here. When you’re on the job, in spiritual issues when it comes to your walk with the Lord, when it comes to spiritual growth, spiritual leadership have a delegated authority. You need to recognize that.
Submission to spiritual authority involves showing them the proper respect, honor, deference that is due their position, and office. See it is not just the person, it is the position that God has placed them in that you need to demonstrate this honoring attitude towards. Not only recognizing their position-showing them deference, it is obeying their instruction, it is receiving their correction, it is seeking their counsel-because you recognize that God has placed these people in your life over you for your good and for His glory. And fourthly it is following their example: their pattern, imitating their walk of faith. You see, this is what submitting and humility is all about. Recognizing their position is God given is showing them the proper respect and deference due their position in office. It is obeying their instruction as we’re reading it out of the Word and it is not just: “That’s what you think. And I am not going to do it.” That is not submitting; that is not showing humility; that is showing pride and arrogance.
Now God requires submitting in humility to spiritual leadership–even as we have a role and responsibility that God is going to hold us accountable to. As we are going to see here, God is going to hold you accountable to how you follow the leadership that he has placed over you. In First Corinthians chapter 16, even though these men listed here are not identified as elders, they were obviously leaders in the Corinthian church. They were a delegate that was sent to Paul; they actually brought back Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church with Paul’s instruction to that church. And Paul has some important things to say to that church about these men.
In First Corinthians chapter 16, we will pick up in verse 15. Paul writes here he says “Now I urge you brethren, you know the household of Stephanus that they were the first fruits of Achaia and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints.” They were one of Paul’s first converts and they were, because of that, put in a position of leadership in the church. They had devoted themselves for ministry to the saints. They were in a servant leadership role.