Clothe Yourself With Humility

by Mike Ratliff

5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7 (NASB) 

Humility was not considered a virtue in the ancient world any more than it is in our day and time. Oh, it is given lip service here and there, but what I have seen get the most attention from people is arrogance that is rooted in pride. When this is rampant in the world it is understandable, but when so-called Christian leaders become so puffed up with their own importance that they refuse to listen to any constructive criticism whatsoever nor will they change the course of their ministries in case they may damage their public image, well, those are men living according to the flesh not in the Spirit. The imperative in the passage above is not just for leaders. It is for all of us. We know this since it is in the context of being subject to our elders. Let’s look at it a bit closer.

5 Ὁμοίως, νεώτεροι, ὑποτάγητε πρεσβυτέροις· πάντες δὲ ἀλλήλοις τὴν ταπεινοφροσύνην ἐγκομβώσασθε, ὅτι [ὁ] θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται, ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν.
6 Ταπεινώθητε οὖν ὑπὸ τὴν κραταιὰν χεῖρα τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα ὑμᾶς ὑψώσῃ ἐν καιρῷ, 7 πᾶσαν τὴν μέριμναν ὑμῶν ἐπιρίψαντες ἐπʼ αὐτόν, ὅτι αὐτῷ μέλει περὶ ὑμῶν. 1 Peter 5:5-7 (NA28)

5 Likewise, younger men, be submissive to elders. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because God opposes proud men, but to humble men he gives grace.
6 Therefore, be humbled under the mighty hand of God that you may be exalted in due time, 7 having cast all of your anxiety upon him because it matters to him concerning you. 1 Peter 5:5-7 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The “likewise” in v5 translates the adverb ὁμοίως (homoiōs) and could have been rendered as “similarly” for it is referring back to Peter’s instructions in 5:1-4 to elders, the shepherds of the flock. This part of the passage is written to νεώτεροι (neōteroi), “ new, young.” This is everyone who is not an elder or pastors or spiritual leaders of the church. The church members, the νεώτεροι, are to give honor, deference, and respect to spiritual maturity (1 Corinthians 15:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14; Titus 3:1,2; Hebrews 13:7,17). Look at the examples in our time where young, so-called Christian leaders in the new-Evangelicalism have done the exact opposite, refusing to listen to those who are older and more mature.

How are we to live before others? We are to clothe ourselves with humility toward one another. The words “clothe yourselves with” translates the Greek verb ἐγκομβώσασθε (enkombōsasthe) the Aorist tense, Imperative mood, Middle voice case of ἐγκομβόομαι (enkomboomai), “dress, clothe.” The Aorist, Imperative denotes a command, request, or entreaty. It is used for general exhortations and for things that must be begun at that very moment. The Middle voice makes this somewhat reflexive in that we are told to do something to ourselves or with ourselves. In the Greek, the verb meaning is to tie something on oneself with a knot or a bow. It was often used of a slave putting on an apron over his clothes in order to keep his clothes clean. What is this telling us then? Humility or “lowly mindedness” is an attitude that one is not too good to serve.

In v6 we are told that we are to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. We are to submit when hardships come. When we are wrongfully accused or we are discovered to have some disease or one of our children is in rebellion or we have suffered some great financial loss or we have lost our job or we were a Bible teacher at church and were falsely accused by liars with another agenda and so lost our position or our church’s leadership decided to go seeker sensitive and no matter how well we challenge their decision, no one listens, et cetera. You see, these humbling scenarios come in all sorts of designs and conditions and from every conceivable direction and yet, if we will obey this command to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God in the midst of what does not make any sense to us, we have this promise, “be humbled under the mighty hand of God that you may be exalted in due time having case all of your anxiety upon him because it matters to him concerning you.” God will lift up the suffering, submissive believers in his wisely appointed time just as he did his servant Job.

Where is your heart my brethren?

Soli Deo Gloria!