“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'”
(1 Peter 5:5)
As I prepare for this Sunday’s message from 1 Peter 5:1-5, I realize that there’s just not enough time to go into full detail on everything that is touched upon in this passage. The final point that Peter makes, urging all to humility in their relationships with one another, is a vital aspect of our life together as the body of Christ. In all honesty, this one verse could occupy an entire series of sermons on what it means to be humble, how and why God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble, and how humility is demonstrated in the life of faith. That series isn’t in the works, yet, but perhaps it should be.
In the midst of study on this passage, I read again a prayer from the Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. I’ve shared prayers from this collection before. I’ve even read them in worship on occasion. The prayer I read today is called “Humility in Service.” It’s written primarily for the Elder in service of the church, but could be applied to everyone who aspires to serve the Lord in faithfulness.
The prayer, as with most of the Puritan Prayers, is devastating in its candor and vulnerability, and is absolutely Christ-centered in its hope. I offer it to your for prayer and reflection today.
Humility in Service *
I humble myself for faculties misused,
opportunities neglected, words ill-advised,
I repent of my folly and inconsiderate ways,
my broken resolutions, untrue service,
my backsliding steps, my vain thoughts.
O bury my sins in the ocean of Jesus’ blood
and let no evil result from my fretful temper,
unseemly behavior, provoking bitterness.
If by unkindness I have wounded or hurt another,
do thou pour in the balm of heavenly consolation;
If I have turned cold from need, misery, grief,
do not in just anger forsake me;
If I have withheld relief because of my poverty and pain,
do not withhold thy gracious bounty from me;
If I have shunned those who have offended me,
keep open the door of thy heart to my need.
Fill me with an over-flowing ocean of compassion,
the reign of love my motive, the law of love my rule.
O thou God of all grace, make me more thankful, more humble;
Inspire me with a deep sense of my unworthiness
arising from the depravity of my nature,
my omitted duties, my unimproved advantages,
thy commands violated by me.
With all my calls to gratitude and joy
may I remember that I have reason for sorrow and humiliation;
O give me repentance unto life;
Cement my oneness with my blessed Lord,
that faith may adhere to him more immovably,
that love may entwine itself round him more tightly,
that his Spirit may pervade every fibre of my being.
Then send me out to make him known to my fellow-men.