The next several verses appeal to me and frustrate me so much. They appeal to me because I am in one sense an older man who strives to be an example and in another sense a young man who looks to his elders to learn. The trouble with this is there are so few people willing to serve as examples these days. Don’t get me wrong–I have some in my life, but as I look over the landscape of our culture, the terms “selfless, humble and willing” are not the words I would use to describe many adults. If I am going to be honest and fair, these words do not always describe me either. But this is our calling as believers.
1 Peter 5:1-4 (Bryce International Version) “It is the privilege of Christian men and women to mentor and to speak God’s truth into the generation under them, not out of obligation or false motives but out of love for them by exemplifying a life lived for Christ out of gratitude for what Christ has done.” I believe the question is implied: Are you doing this?? If not, why not? We all need to look at our lives and see what is holding us back from serving.
It is not only the “older” people who are supposed to have humility but also the younger must show humility and respect their elders. This is again a difficult task in a culture where so many of our elders seem to be as lost as their children. The goal here is not perfection but a striving after Christ and a repentant heart when you fall short of that example. Sadly, this rarely even happens in Christian circles. This is why it is so important to be true disciples of Christ, following his commands, so that we can be people worthy of respect and submission.
Before you younger people freak out…this is not a submission that gives up all rights but understands that the elders’ years of service puts them in a unique position to speak wisdom into our lives. We all need or have needed wisdom during difficult situations in our lives. So I plead with you younger people to give up the “arrogance of youth,” admit that you don’t have everything figured out, and accept wisdom from those wiser than you. Solomon in Proverbs 1:7 describes the brushing off of truth this way: “fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Don’t be a fool; humble yourself and grow in wisdom and awe of the Lord, for He cares for you.
A good friend mine after reading over this devotional told me “The natural application for each Christian would then be to look in our lives for someone who is ahead of us in this life and find a mentor or someone to emulate and at the same time to be looking back and seeing who we can mentor or at the very least be cognizant of who is watching our lives?” This reminded me of something very dear to my heart, cycling.
I love riding my road bike, the more I do it, the more I fall in love with the feel of the road. One thing you see cyclists doing often is drafting off one another in order to keep up their stamina. This can be seen as a metaphor, though not perfect, for the Christian life. The leader in a pack of cyclists needs to remain aware of those behind him and congizant of the dangers ahead in order to warn those following in his wake. The leader takes the brunt of the wind resistance and behind him an air pocket opens up and flows around those who follow closely behind. The more distance between the front rider and the followers the more resistance they begin to feel. Those behind him would do well to position themselves closely to build up speed and stamina behind the leader and head his warnings in order to avoid calamity.
Eventually the dynamic in the pack must change. As the leader tires those who have been traveling in his wake and building speed are primed to take take over (Jesus -> Disciples, Paul->Timothy, The Apostles->Church). As the older generation lives. whether consciously or unconsciously, as examples to the younger generation they set them up to be the future examples of Christ in this world. Whether temptation or danger strikes they will always know that “the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
May you elders live your life in a way that you pass on the truth to future generations. May you younger live your lives in a way that you humbly and respectfully receive instruction from the saints who have come before you.