April 13, 2022
1 Peter 5:5-6 NIV
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
As Peter makes the turn toward home and closing this five chapter epistle which has taken us seventy two days to read together so far, he gives the Church Jesus is building a few “swing thoughts.” The golfers in the house will immediately get the reference. For the rest, a swing thought is a single thought a golfer has in their mind as they stand over the ball and prepare to hit it. It can be something as simple as “keep your head still,” or “roll your wrists over at impact,” or “stay down on the ball.”
The problem with “swing thoughts” is just that. You can really only hold one at a time. It’s why, back in another life when I played golf, I dismissed every thought from my mind save one, which I learned from my college golfing colleague, John Daly—”Grip it and rip it!” (I know! Jack Nicklaus once told me to never drop names.)
Peter is going to give us three parting Holy Spirit “swing thoughts.” 1. Humble yourself. 2. Don’t be anxious. 3. Resist Satan. My encouragement is to pick one based on the situation (i.e. the shot in front of you).
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,
What is humility, really? We know it when we see it, right? And we can spot a fake a mile away. It’s why trying to be humble never works. There are two fundamental dynamics at play in all people: Identity and image. Humility only comes from a secure sense of identity. A secure sense of identity comes from belonging to Jesus. I love how Oswald Chambers puts it in his work on Biblical Psychology:
“Humility is not an ideal; it is the unconscious result of the life being rightly related to God and centered in Him.”
When one does not have a secure sense of identity, all the energy goes into managing the image. This is where pride comes in. Pride is the strategy to overcome an insecure internal identity by developing false security around one’s external image. We see this everywhere in two basic expressions—enmeshed codependence and isolated independence—in plain speak: People pleasing and high performance. (O.K. there is also virtue signaling, which is the insecure self on bad religion, aka Pharisaism, but we will save that for another day.)
Humility is not a behavior. It is the external manifestation of one’s true internal identity. When Peter says clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, he is saying let your outside image reflect your true identity. Strip away the false image. Be your real self. Clothe yourself with humility. Cut the pretense. Here’s how Paul says it:
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9-10)
This is why “banding” matters so much. Most people remain stuck and captive to their insecure selves and all of its broken patterns and pathologies. I know I lived too many years stuck there. This is the core work of the second half of the gospel, the reclamation of a baptismal identity and the necessity of banding. Jesus sets captives free. He really does. It’s why you must learn to believe the real truth about yourself, no matter how beautiful it is.
Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead. . .
Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. You who are everything made yourself nothing. You are humility embodied. You clothed yourself with utter humility and what a sight to behold. Holy Spirit, give us vision and insight into Jesus and into ourselves. We confess our insecurity in the deep places. Heal us and set us free to be who you made us to be– image bearers of you. These are the paths of true righteousness. Lead us there for your name’s sake. All of this for the glory of the Father. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.
So are you humble? Just kidding. Are you growing in your true identity in Jesus? How so? Are you secure in deep abiding attachment to him? How about to others?
ALSO– I wanted to invite you to join my friend, Lo Alaman, and I on Maundy Thursday at 5:30 central on Instagram. Lo is one of my favorite people– an author, a poet, and works with us on the FarmTeam at Seedbed. Join us for an Instagram Live session @newroomconf or via @lothepoet. See you there.