What to Do with Your Worry (1 Peter 5:6-7)

June 5, 2019
What to Do with Your Worry (1 Pet 5:6-7)

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

This recalls Psalm 55:22 which exhorts, "Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved." Peter, of course, is also echoing Jesus' teaching ministry. Most notably, Matt 6:25-34 comes to mind when Jesus taught the multitudes during the Sermon on the Mount and commanded them multiple times saying, "Therefore, do not worry."

For commentary that succinctly summarizes the points of these two brief but important verses in Peter's letter, we may turn to a reputable New Testament scholar who wrote, “Seeing the relationship between the main verb (‘humble yourselves,’ v. 6) and the participle (‘casting all your anxiety upon him,’ NASB) is important because it shows that giving in to worry is an example of pride. The logical relationship between the two clauses is as follows: believers humble themselves by casting their worries on God. Conversely, if believers continue to worry, then they are caving in to pride. How can anxiety and worry be criticized as pride? We can see that it might be a lack of faith, but does it make sense to identify worry as pride? Worry is a form of pride because when believers are filled with anxiety, they are convinced that they must solve all the problems in their lives in their own strength. The only god they trust in is themselves. When believers throw their worries upon God, they express their trust in his mighty hand, acknowledging that he is Lord and Sovereign over all of life" (Schreiner).

Certainly, the main reason we cast our worry upon the Lord is because He truly cares for us, and He can actually do something about it! We know that God loves us. He gave us the absolute best when He gave us His Son who laid down His life for us. Why would He not now freely give us all other good things? He loves us and cares for us. He wants us to bring our burdens to Him so that He can do the heavy lifting. He is able to take away our guilt, give us confident assurance in the future, empower us for holy living by His Holy Spirit, give us everything we need for life and godliness, and more. Why would we not take our worry to such a friend?! He is the one with the "mighty hand" who sovereignly accomplishes His purposes in the world. When we turn ourselves over to Him, then we know that He will do what is best for us because we are a part of His family and His plans.

I suppose the last question we should ask and answer is, how do we take our worry to the Lord? How do we cast it upon Him? The apostle almost certainly understands this to happen through prayer. When we give ourselves over to the Lord in prayer, we may confess our sins and find forgiveness and cleansing, but we may also confess our concerns and worries to the Lord. We turn them over to Him, even "casting" them over to Him, trusting that He is more than able to handle our situations. This is faith. This is prayer.

Thus, we might picture a man in Peter's day who had a heavy load to carry from one place to another. He was humble enough to admit that he could not carry such a heavy load, so, little by little, he throws the items up onto the back of a faithful pack-mule who is able to bear the burden for him. We, too, must humble ourselves and cast each and every one of our worries upon the Lord through prayer so that He can do what we cannot.

Why Should We Pray?

June 3, 2019
Why Should We Pray?

Matthew 6:5-8 
5 And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

If God already knows what we need, then why should we pray? Note that “you” is plural in vv5, 7 but changes to singular in v6 to highlight the need for personal prayer. Also note that Jesus does not say "if" you pray but "when" you pray. He expects us to pray and even to do it privately on a regular basis. The following are more biblical and practical reasons of why we pray:

(1) Prayer is communication with God. It is our continuing and growing relationship with Him. Morris reminds us that prayer is “not to inform the Father on matters of which he is ignorant, but to worship him.”

(2) Prayer is trust in God (1 Thess 5:17). When we pray, we are declaring our faith in God and dependence upon Him for our every need. That is why the apostle can instruct us to pray without ceasing. He means that we are to constantly trust God and voice that trust to Him in prayer.

(3) Prayer is spiritual warfare as we set our focus single-mindedly on the Lord (Eph 6:10-18; Matt 26:41). In prayer, we think of God, His Word, the Gospel, others, our own sins, the battle we want to fight against the enemy. We call on God to empower and even change us by His Spirit, and we claim His promises from the Scriptures.

(3) “The Bible assumes that people will pray to their God, since they are dependent upon Him for everything (our sin makes prayer even more of a necessity)” (Carpenter and Comfort) {Heb 4:16 obtain mercy and find grace}.

(4) The Lord is often waiting for someone to stand in the gap (Ezek 22:30 I waited for someone to stand in the gap). The Lord wants us to partner with Him in life and ministry. He intends to accomplish His purposes but has sovereignly chosen to include our prayers in those plans. He is ready and willing to 

(5) We pray because we know that the end of time is near (1 Pet 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers).

(6) Prayer is obedience to God. He has commanded us from Old Testament to New Testament, from Jesus Himself to His witnesses after Him to pray, and even to do it continually. In this way, it is a spiritual discipline that brings about change in our own lives. As we continue to give ourselves over to prayer, we give ourselves over to God and His care and His working in and through us. We are changed from one degree of glory to another, we mature in Christ as our character grows more and more holy and godly, as we pray.

(7) “[P]rayer is not simply desirable but necessary” (Morris).

The Spiritual Nature of Sin and Restoration (Galatians 6:1)

May 22, 2019
The Spiritual Nature of Sin and Restoration (Galatians 6:1)

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

To contemporary, American tastes a verse such as this one is foul. We are stubbornly independent and private and do not want to be accountable to anyone. However, for those of a humble mind, willing to receive what the Lord is teaching, we see the wisdom and love of a Christian community which looks out for one another.

In the first place, the writer calls the church’s attention to the matter by addressing them as “brethren,” that is, brothers and sisters in Christ. They are all a part of the family of God. And, we are reminded, “One way in which brothers and sisters can support one another is by seeking to bring those who have committed a sin back into the fellowship of the community” (Moo, 374). Family should always promote the best for their loved ones. To leave someone caught in a sin or in a pit of despair, or, worse, to enable them to stay in that vulnerable and destructive state is not only unloving but cruel. Christian accountability starts with the loving, familial bond that we have with one another in the church.

The apostle speaks of potential circumstances where any one of the church members could be caught in a trespass (and the statement is so general that he surely has in mind any and all kinds of sins). If this scenario happens, and it is likely to happen to someone at some point, then those who are “spiritual” should seek for the person’s restoration. What does the term “spiritual” mean? One translator renders the phrase, “You who are Spirit people” which is said to be “a cumbersome attempt to carry over into English translation what Paul means by” the Greek phrase” (Moo, 374). What the writer means by this is to call on those in the church who have taken the exhortations seriously to “walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:16, 25) to now carry out their Christian duty to help wayward brothers and sisters. To put it another way, Paul is not calling on a certain group of spiritually superior believers to aid the less spiritual; not at all. He is calling on all believers to do this God-glorifying, soul-saving work of restoration.

The goal is restoration, not humiliation or judgmentalism or cruelty or any of the sort. The goal is restoration. Another scholar explains, “Instead of looking down on those who have failed, people of the Spirit bear their burdens by helping them back up. . . . [W]e must restore the fallen by the Spirit whose fruit is gentleness (cf. 5:22)” (Keener, 266).

Lastly, we must always keep in mind our own life and attitude. Three possibilities have been offered for what the restorers may be tempted to do: (1) Become angry at the offender; (2) Become prideful or self-righteous; (3) Fall into the same sin as the offender (Moo, 375). Thus, the apostle stresses throughout the verse, and the bulk of this section in the epistle, that this work of restoration must be spiritual in nature. We must be dominated by the Holy Spirit in order to get these situations right. If someone falls into sin, they have fallen out of their walk with the Spirit. Those who are in step with the Spirit should seek to spiritually restore these folks “both for the sake of the transgressor (cf. 1 Cor 5:5b) and for the sake of the church’s public testimony (cf. 1 Cor 5:1b; 6:1, 6)” (Keener, 266).