Friday, October 14, 2005

Stronger than the Weight

"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because '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," (1 Pe 5:5-7).

This is a tough one. I have been studying in 1 Peter recently as part of my course work and this scripture sticks in my craw. What does it mean to be humble? And does this apply to modern people the same way that it applied to the audience in Turkey 2000 years ago?

Let me start off with a few points.

1. The word for be subject to in vs. 5 of this scripture is
hupotasso which the Thayer's Lexicon defines as "to arrange under, to subordinate; to subject, put in subjection; to subject one's self, obey; to submit to one's control; to yield to one's admonition or advice; to obey, be subject."

Thayer's Lexicon adds it was a Greek military term meaning "to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader". In non-military use, it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".

2. The word for oppose in this reference is Antitassomai, which means: "to range in battle against; to oppose one's self, resist."

3. Whom does God oppose or array Himself in battle against? The proud (Gr. huperhpanoiÃs, meaning "with an overweening estimate of one's means or merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt, haughty")

But he gives charis or grace to the humble (Tapeinos=which literally means not rising far from the ground, but here is translated humble or lowly).

4. Peter then tells people in the church - this is not pagans he is writing to but Christians - to humble themselves under God's control, so He can lift them up (Hupsoo to lift up on high, to exalt) at the proper time.

That's the stickler. At the proper time. That's why this all requires humility. Because we have to wait for the proper time! The Greek word here is kairos, which is different from what we think of when we say time. We think of chronos, chronological time, tick-tock-the-bus-is-leaving time. But H. Douglas Buckwalter writes:

Time is not fatalistic or capricious, but, according to Scripture, under God's personal direction and control. Time began at creation and becomes the agency through which God continues to unveil his divine purpose for it.

God is transcendent over time. He established the cycle of days and seasons by which time is known and reckoned (Gen 1:14) and possesses the power to dissolve them according to his eternal purposes (Isa 60:19-20); moreover, he controls world history, determining in advance the times set for all nations and bringing them to pass (Dan 2:21; Acts 17:26). But God is not limited by time (Psalm 90:4). It in no sense diminishes his person or work: the eternal God does not grow tired or weary (Isa 40:28) and his purposes prevail (Prov 16:4; Isa 46:10).

And what are we to do about those "the-bus-is-leaving" kind of things -- cast them all on Him for He cares for us. Cast them. Cast -- Epirrhipto, literally to throw upon or to cast -- them on Him. This is the same word used when people "threw their garments on the colt, and put Jesus on it,"(Lk 19:35).

And what are we throwing on Him? Our cares, our anxiety our merimna which in other places is translated "worry" (Mt 13:22) or "concern" (2 Cor 11:28). This is the word that Jesus uses when he says the "cares of this life" choked the word and it proved unfruitful.

But - and HERE'S the big one - we have to leave them with Him. We can because he "cares for" (Gr. melo - care about) us.

Ralph E. Enlow, Jr. Writes in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Theology:

Freedom from anxiety begins with confession that it is not God's will. In fact, anxiety is a subtle insinuation that God is either unable or disinclined to see to our welfare. Other remedial measures include recognizing the futility of worry (Matt 6:27; Luke 12:25); cultivating a growing understanding of God's power and fatherly disposition (Matt 6:26; Luke 12:30); entrusting to God the things that we cannot control (1 Pe 5:7); increasingly viewing things in eternal perspective (Matt 6:32-34; Luke 12:30-34); and substituting prayer for worry (Php 4:6).

Have you ever carried a book bag that was too heavy? Or maybe a backpack on a camping trip? Or maybe you are a mom and you have carried an infant around in one of those papoose things they have nowadays. After a while these things begin to take their toll on your body. Do you remember what a relief it was to put down what you were carrying or to give it to someone else?

I remember one time I was trying to prove my manhood at the gym doing bench presses. I had handled the lighter weights for a while, but then I really loaded the bar to see how much I could lift. I found out it was less than I had on there when I could not move the bar any higher than a couple of inches off my chest.

But I was stuck.

I could not lift the weight, but I could not put it down either. If I held it there long enough, gravity would make the deicision for me - at the cost of some teeth and a plastic surgeon.

Just about the time I was about to give out, two hands grabbed the bar near mine, and a voice said "here, let me help you." I looked up to see a guy "spotting" me and I was very glad to let him have the weight.

Had I continued to try to lift it myself, I was done. But this guy came to help just in time. That's what it means to cast your anxiety on Him. Let Him have it. It's a choice we can make, and we will have to make several times. But we can trust that God is good and will be there to catch our anxiety and we can experience the freedom that comes from trusting Him with it.


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Sam said...

Thank you, David.