By Hoyt Wilson
Pastor, Flatwoods Baptist Church, Holladay
Christians are prone to say “God has promised that victory is ours,” without remembering that there are still battles to be fought. The world, our flesh, and the devil daily present challenges to faith in God and one must be alert to perceive those challenges. The title of this lesson is “Alert Living.” Peter has already reminded his readers in I Peter 4:7: “… be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” To be alert one must not only be wide awake, but must be aware of what is happening with the intention of being prepared to act. There are several areas of responsibility and relationships that need attention if Christians are to practice alert living.
Peter’s first appeal is to the church leaders to be alert to their responsibilities. His appeal is for elders to be shepherds of the flock (church). As a shepherd, elders must “watch over them” (I Peter 5:2). Elder seems to be used in I Peter 5:1 as a term for pastor. Peter exhorts them to fulfill pastoral responsibility not because they have to and certainly not because they draw a salary, but because they are eager to serve. He is also careful to share guidelines as to how they are to perform this ministry. Pastors are not to “lord it over” those under their care. In other words, they are not to be bullies flaunting pastoral authority. They are also exhorted to be examples to the congregation. For those who pastor in a high-handed manner, Peter reminds that there is a “Chief Shepherd” who will reprimand or reward shepherds. The reward will be “the crown of glory that will never fade away” (v. 4).
His second admonition is to the church itself, especially those who are young, to be alert to their own disposition. “In the same way” of I Peter 5:5 refers to “eager to serve” in verse 2. Eagerness to serve should be controlled by the self-discipline of putting others before self. In this regard, Peter tells the younger to be submissive to the elderly. He has already encouraged all to submit to authorities (I Peter 2:13): slaves to submit to their masters (I Peter 2:18): wives to submit to their husbands (I Peter 3:1): and husbands to be considerate of their wives (I Peter 3:7).Now he adds: “All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” (I Peter 5:5). Wow! What a potential this has for the 21st century church. Can you imagine how we could impact a lost nation if all Christians were humbly submissive to each other because we are submissive to God and cast all our care on Him (v. 7)? Humility producing submission to each other in the fear of God is only produced in one by a close relationship with God. One thing remains to help Christians practice alert living. Christians need to be alert and of sober mind because the devil, their enemy, is on the prowl.
I have already said that being alert not only means being fully awake, but also being prepared to act. The devil seems never to take a day off. Peter said that he was like a roaring lion. A lion only roars when its prey is at a disadvantage and he is ready to attack. The roar is intended to startle and confuse the prey. Christians must respond to the devil by resisting him. Once again Peter refers to the fact that Christians are suffering persecution. He stresses that: “… the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of suffering” (v. 9).
Is there any doubt that the devil is roaring in 2016? Christians are to practice alert living. When Christian leaders are alert to its responsibilities and the church is humbly alert to its disposition the devil not only can be resisted, but can be denied his intent of devouring Christians. Yes, we may have to suffer a little while, but God promises restoration. Be strong and courageous. Be firm and steadfast in the Lord. “To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen” (v. 11).