“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”– 1 Peter 5:5-7 (ESV)
In the above passage, the Apostle Peter instructs his readers in the correct path of humility. In particular, he calls for us to “clothe” ourselves “with humility toward one another.”
The way of Christ is the way of the cross. It is the pathway of humility.
The Greek word used for “humility” is “tapeinoo.” According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary, this word literally means: “to depress, to abase, to bring low.” More specifically, it means to bring something low that will not rise far from the ground, like leveling hilly ground down to a flat plain.
Also note that the Apostle instructs those who are young, both in age and in the faith, to “clothe” themselves in humility.
The word “clothe” in the Greek is “egkomboomai,” meaning “to gird oneself with a thing, or to wear something.”
Of course, the act of “clothing” ourselves in humility will naturally call attention to any “fig leaves” we may be wearing in an attempt to hide something from God. Recall, this is what Adam and Eve foolishly did after their eyes were opened to their nakedness. The first couple, upon discovering their newfound vulnerabilities, quickly covered themselves with the leaves of a fig tree in a futile attempt to hide their perceived deficiencies from the presence of God.
So too, all men are born with an acute awareness of their nakedness and sinful tendencies.
These tendencies toward evil, such as the desire to scheme, plot, cheat, lie, and steal, are apparent within children from the earliest stages of life. But so too is an aggravating and unshakable guilt that is strangely associated with each immoral act.
Naturally, like the first man and woman, modern man still attempts to “clothe” his most vulnerable areas. That is, we all instinctively seek to put our “best face” on for both God and men.
When God looks upon humanity, He sees two types of humans:
1. Those who are attempting to hide their spiritual nakedness from Him by covering themselves with “fig leaves.” (These “fig leaves” include: organized religion, nationalism, as well as many other ideologies, attitudes, and esp. possessions; powerful-sounding titles, expensive homes, cars, clothes, gadgets, education.)
2. Those who have recognized their nakedness and have responded by tossing aside their “fig leaves” in exchange for His forgiveness. (These now stand beautifully clothed in all of the goodness of God’s Spirit by the power of Jesus’ sacrificial life, death, resurrection.)
Over the centuries, mankind has evolved very little in his attempts to hide himself from God. Whatever a man perceives to be his most vulnerable area(s) will ultimately determine his focus.
If a man is obsessed with eternal things, such as sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others, it is because he himself has first recognized his own nakedness and sin nature.
However, if a man spends his life focused upon the temporal things of this world, it is because he stubbornly refuses to deal with his nakedness.
He prefers to remain in hiding.
The Apostle Peter tells us to “clothe” ourselves with humility. Before we do this we must first remove our “fig leaves” and stand naked before God.
God will clothe our nakedness in His own divine humility as a reminder of our absolute dependence upon the Father.
It is noteworthy to add that some misconstrue the purpose of our spiritual humility by using it to consistently magnify their sinful nature. However, it is more in line with Jesus’ teaching to view Peter’s call for humility as a constant reminder of our absolute dependence upon God for everything.
Know this: The possessions that we strive for, and the mere things that we insist upon surrounding ourselves with, will be utterly meaningless in the final analysis.
We possess nothing.
In fact, it is impossible for us to truly possess anything.
Paul reminds us of this when he said: “We brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out.”
We stand completely naked before God..
Therefore, let us clothe ourselves in humility. When we do, we declare our complete trust in the saving power of Christ.
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