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Fear Is Sometimes Evidence of Pride and Our Reluctance to Let Go of Our Control

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 5:6–7).

Anxiety is sometimes the fruit of pride—especially when it is accompanied by prayerlessness. Though we often minimize our lack of prayer, prayerlessness unmasks an independent spirit—it reveals our failure to recognize our weakness and utter dependence on God. When you don’t pray, and when you take on your anxieties by yourself, you show your need for humility before the Lord.

Peter makes this important connection. But notice that before Peter exhorts his readers (who are suffering Christians) to make a habit of bringing their anxieties to God—of throwing them at his feet, so to speak—he issues a call to humility. We must cultivate true humility in ourselves and for ourselves. Like a garment, we must put it on (see Col. 3:12). No human being can do that for us. Yes, others may humiliate us, but only the Spirit’s sanctifying
work can move us to genuinely humble ourselves. In order to do this, we need divine grace to combat pride and unbelief. Today’s verses are loaded with transformative truth for our anxiety-prone hearts. We find a command, its purpose, a manner of obeying the command, and the reason for obeying it.

The command is to humble yourself. Verse 6 begins with “humble yourselves” and is immediately followed by the word “therefore.” This command is preceded by a warning and a promise: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (v. 5). When you humble yourself before God, he gives you more grace. This grace empowers you to resist allowing anxiety about your trials to push you away from God.

The purpose of humility is to help us to exchange self-exaltation with trust in God. Anxiety is often related to our desire for control, which is connected to thinking too highly of ourselves. Peter’s warning is this: If you exalt yourself, you will be humbled by God’s mighty hand. But if you humble yourself, the same “mighty hand of God” will exalt you “at the proper time.”

The manner of humbling yourself is to cast your cares on God. Peter doesn’t simply bark out a command; he tells us specifically how to obey. The way to heed the command to be humble is by “casting all your anxieties” on God. You accomplish this by talking to God and releasing your cares to him by faith. Are you ready to bring your anxieties to the Lord as an act of humility?

The reason to humble yourself in prayer is clear: God cares for you. Peter connects relief from anxiety to an awareness of God’s faithful care. “He cares” is in the present tense in the original Greek, referring to continual action. This is Peter’s way of stressing how much God constantly cares for you. Our anxieties are stoked when we don’t trust that the Lord cares for us. Do you believe that he cares for you?

Casting your cares on God is an expression of moment-by-moment dependence on him, which is a fruit of humility. Why wait? Humble yourself before him right now and bring your anxieties to him.

  • Reflect: How might your anxiety show you your need for more grace?
  • Reflect: How would you describe your prayer life? What steps do you need to take to humble yourself?
  • Act: Prayerlessness is an indicator of pride and self-sufficiency. If this defines you, repent of it right now and ask the Lord for help.

[This post is a chapter excerpt from the 31-day devotional, Anxiety: Knowing God’s Peace.]

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