God is sovereign in our salvation for sure, but to fully experience His grace you must take action.
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1 Peter 5 (ESV)
1 So I exhort the elders among you,
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:
the flock of God
that is among you,
not under compulsion,
as God would have you;
not for shameful gain,
3 not domineering over those in your charge,
but being examples to the flock.
when the chief Shepherd appears,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
5 Likewise, you who are younger,
be subject to the elders.
all of you,
with humility toward one another,
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore,
under the mighty hand of God
so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
7 casting all your anxieties
because he cares for you.
8 Be sober-minded;
Your adversary the devil
prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour.
9 Resist him,
firm in your faith,
knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
10 And after you have suffered a little while,
the God of all grace,
who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
and establish you.
11 To him be the dominion forever and ever.
12 By Silvanus,
a faithful brother as I regard him,
I have written briefly to you,
exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God.
Stand firm in it.
13 She who is at Babylon,
who is likewise chosen,
sends you greetings,
and so does Mark, my son.
14 Greet one another with the kiss of love.
to all of you
who are in Christ.
1 Peter 5 Summary
Peter addresses men called to serve as elders, which he describes as shepherds of God's flock which are under their care (v2). Peter gives three negative imperatives for how elders are to watch over the church:
NOT because they have to or just because it's their turn;
but because they're willing.
NOT doing it to dishonestly enrich themselves;
but because they're eager to serve.
NOT lording it over the church to get their own way;
but by being examples - servant leaders - to the church.
Serving as an elder is not without reward, however. When the Chief Shepherd appears they will receive a crown of glory that will never fade away (v4).
Not everyone can be the shepherd; the church is comprised mostly of sheep who need to submit to the shepherds. Being a submissive sheep does not in any keep you from winning the same sort of prize set out for the elders, however, because God opposes the proud and shows favor to the humble (v5 / Proverbs 3:34).
This is one of my favorite benedictions in the Bible. Here's my paraphrase of it. Notice how many aspects of this blessing begins with something you must do in order to receive it:
Be humbled under the hand of God almighty,
so that He might lift you up in His own time.
Throw all of your worries on Him,
because He is concerned about you and cares for you.
Prepare your mind for action;
Be aware the devil is prowling about looking to devour you.
Resist him by standing firm in your faith,
and be reminded that the church throughout the world is undergoing this same suffering.
Be assured this God of all grace,
who called you to His eternal glory in Christ before the creation of the world,
complete His image in you;
and will establish and strengthen you.
Give all the glory to God forever.
Amen = Make it so.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The chief Shepherd... who cares for you and who gives grace to the humble (v4, 5, 7)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will be able to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God (v6)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: