God’s Care for the Humble
August 7th, 1960 @ 10:50 AM
1 Peter 5:5-7
GOD’S CARE FOR THE HUMBLE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Peter 5:5-7
8-7-60 10:50 a.m.
You who are listening on the radio are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled God’s Care for the Humble. Because of the Lord’s Supper this morning, I have exchanged the sermons; the sermon that was to be preached tonight I am preaching this morning, and the sermon that was to be preached this morning I am preaching tonight. The reason for it is the sermon that is announced for this morning is a blood-and-thunder sermon.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? For if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
[1 Peter 4:17-18]
In my preaching through the Bible, why, I take these texts as I come to them. But on account of the solemnization of this hour by the presence of the elements of the Lord’s Table, I just felt better in my spirit to preach the sermon tonight. If you do not choose to come to the auditorium, why, you raise the window on the side toward the house of God and you still can hear it. But the sermon that was prepared for tonight fits beautifully in the spirit of this memorial hour, fits the passage of Scripture that you read from the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. It is this: in 1 Peter 5:5-7, “Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.”
He begins the text, “Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud” [1 Peter 5:5]. To be proud is a natural concomitant of our fallen nature. Pride is as natural to the human heart and the human life as weeds are in a watered garden or as the rushes and the reeds are by the side of a stagnant pond. It is hard to get rid of: pride, human pride. When you kill it, it revives; when you bury it in a tomb, it bursts forth again; it has a thousand lives. It lives on the very thing that should be poison to it! It assumes a thousand shapes. By the time we think we have grasped it, it eludes our fruitless search and appears again in another form. It is a daring and God-defying sin. It arraigns the justice of God, as in the case of Cain [Genesis 4:10-15]. It challenges Jehovah to a combat, as did Pharaoh [Exodus 15:3-4]. It forms itself into God, as it did in the life of Nebuchadnezzar [Daniel 3:28-29]. In fact, the old theologians say that Lucifer, Satan, fell from heaven because of his pride [Ezekiel 28:17]. Pride would unthrone and murder God. It excludes us from the favor of the Lord: “For God resisteth the proud, but God giveth grace to the humble” [1 Peter 5:5].
How do we humble ourselves before God? “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” [1 Peter 5:6]. We humble ourselves under the hand of God when we become willing to accept the lowest offices for our Lord. It’s a genuine humility when a man counts it a great honor to be a doorkeeper in God’s house, or to speak a word to a little child, or better still to wash the feet of the saints. It’s a genuine humility when a man like my blessed friend from the Salvation Army here gets him a drum, or a tambourine, or a trumpet, or a trombone, and stands on a street corner where the crowds pass rushing by, and speak a word for Jesus. A man is learning to be great when he’s learning to be little, and a man is prepared for great office when he humbles himself and is debased in his own estimation. If I could draw a sketch of a perfected Christian, it would be a king keeping a door, or a prince feeding the lambs, or most beautiful of all, our Master washing the feet of His disciples [John 13:3-5].
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” [1 Peter 5:6]. It is a part of humility on the part of God’s people when they accept chastisement and discipline as from God. As the reed bows to the wind, or as the wax yields to the impression of the seal, so a man in affliction and in trial bows to the will of God; kissing the rod, maybe, that chastens him; expecting, maybe, even harder and more difficult blows; bowing in prayer as our Lord did in Gethsemane [Luke 22:41-44], drinking the bitter cup God hath placed in our hands. For trial and discipline and chastisement come to every son of God, to every child of the Lord [Hebrews 12:6]; and when we war against it, and when we strive against the divine decree, we hurt ourselves. Like the ox that kicks against the goad, the iron of the prod but sinks deeper into his flesh. Many people under severe affliction and trial come out of it the worse for their rebellion and their obstreperous unyieldedness. But to be humble in the presence of the Lord, however the affliction may come, is to find infinitely precious preferment. As Paul said, “For our affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” [2 Corinthians 4:17]. “Humble yourselves therefore under the hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” [1 Peter 5:6].
This is the way of the humble: that we accept, in grace and in loving favor and in heavenly kindness, the salvation proffered to our sinful souls and lives by the Lord. I tell you, I do not exaggerate when I avow the finest, sweetest, most heavenly sight in all this earth is a man, a sinner man, a confessed sinner man coming to God in humble contrition and in yielded confession [Psalm 51:1-17]. It’s a great thing to see a man come to God, wondering that he should be privileged to come, astonished at so great a price paid for his life [1 Peter 1:18-19], just filled with gratitude and burdened down with joy that the Spirit should have invited him and led him in the way. It’s a marvelous thing for a man to look up to Jesus and say, “O Lord, why me? Why me?”
So many people have the spirit and the attitude to dictate to God how they are to be saved. So many people have the spirit and the attitude to find reasons why they should not accept God’s will and God’s way. How noble it is when a man, a sinner man, answers the mandates and call of God: when the Lord says, “Look” [John 3:14-16], and he looks; when the Lord says, “Trust” [Psalm 37:5; Proverbs 3:5], and he trusts; when the Lord says, “Believe” [Acts 16:30-31], and he believes; when the Lord says, “Accept” [Hebrews 3:7-8], and he accepts. It’s a great thing in itself just to see a confessed sinner: “I know I’m a lost undone soul, I need God”; that’s a great thing in itself [Luke 18:13-14].
I read this week of a noble and famous prince that in the long ago visited the king of Spain. He was so noble and so famous a prince, that the king of Spain did something in his honor. They were visiting among the Spanish galleys, and as the prince and the king walked among those rows of oars, men who were condemned under a life sentence for crime, the king made the proposition to the prince that he could pick out any man that he found and he’d set him free, out of deference to the visit of the great prince. So unknown to the men in the galley who were at the oars, the famous prince went to this fellow over here and said, “My man, why are you here?” And the fellow replied, “I’ll tell you why I’m here: false witnesses swore my character away.”
“Ah,” said the prince. And he went to the next one and said, “And why are you here?” And he said, “I’m here unjustly for a crime I never committed.” And he went around to another one, and, “My man, why are you here?”
“Oh,” he said, “I had a little misdemeanor in my life, and they passed a full sentence of imprisonment upon me. I’m unjustly chained to this oar.” And he finally went around and asked another man, “And why are you here?” And that man replied, “Sir, you ask me why I am here? I am here justly, because of the wrong that I have done. And sir, what is more, I count it a great grace that even my life was spared me.” And the prince looked down upon that man, smiled, and said, “You know, it’s a great pity that so vile and base a fellow as you should be here chained among such innocent people. I will set you free.” Oh, you can’t help but smile at it, but you can’t help also but feel the truth of it. It’s a great thing just to stand in the presence of a man who confesses himself to be a lost sinner.
I ate dinner one day, in the days of my teens when I was a country pastor, and there was a seventeen-year-old hired hand, a very illiterate and uneducated boy at the table immediately across from me. As we visited at the table, I began talking to that boy, grown up way out in the knobs, unlettered, untaught. As I began to talk to the lad, I said to him, “Son, are you a Christian?” And he said to me, “No sir, preacher, I ain’t no Christian. I’m a lost sinner.” And I looked right back at him and I said, “Son, you’re near the kingdom of heaven. You’re going to be saved in this revival.” And he was; and he was. It’s a great thing to see a man humble, in confessed sin and unworthiness before God. “Lord, if I receive the just deserts of my life, I’d be lost and shut out forever. But oh, the mercy and goodness of Christ whose grace reached down even to me, even to me.”
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due season” [1 Peter 5:6]. And God can use a man like that, who will bow humbly in the presence of the Lord. As long as a man is full of himself, God can’t fill him. The only way God can fill our cups is that they be empty of us. As long as a man’s mouth is filled with his own words and his own boastings, God can’t fill his mouth with words. But if a man will come to God empty and say, “Lord, fill me,” and if a man will come to God and say, “Master, these stammering testimonies and witnesses of mine, how feeble, how far short of Thy great goodness and glory,” God will put words in that man’s heart and in that man’s mouth that will convict the lost and bring them to Jesus. “Humble yourselves therefore under the might hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” [1 Peter 5:6]. Not living upon human praise that leads to nothing but emptiness and vanity, and not doing things that they might be proclaimed in the marketplaces; but just doing it for the Lord. “Humble yourselves, that He may exalt you” [1 Peter 5:6].
And then, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” [1 Peter 5:7]. That’s one of the prettiest, most precious of all of the texts in this Bible, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” Truly, many of the cares of our lives would never be upon us were we to follow that previous precept, to humble ourselves under the hand of God; for so many of the cares of our lives and the burdens of our lives are self-created. We burden ourselves. For example, a man is full of care and he has a great burden when he is falsely ambitious, when he seeks preferential treatment for himself, when he lusts and pants after personal aggrandizement and exaltation. It’s a great care to live under the aegis of your own personal ambition.
A man fills his life with care when he’s greedy and grasping, always more and yet more. I think of those who make a god out of game; and I’ve seen them, I don’t know how many, bowed down before the patron saints of gambling. And a man is filled with care when he doesn’t trust God for the morrow, when he thinks to know and to do better than God, and when he doesn’t trust the helm of the future with the Lord, therefore he’s filled with every kind of worry that his fancy can create.
And then, another time, and another way men are filled with cares and burdens: when they are peevish, and when they are fretful, and when they are little, and when they are easily offended and hurt. I read of a professor, and the fellow described him like this: he says, “That professor over there, the young professor there, he has nothing to vex him except as he vexes himself. And he makes a great calamity out of every little misdemeanor, and he is fretful, and he is peevish, and he is unhappy when things do not minister to his own proud will and his own delicate taste.”
And may I follow that through? Did you know, one of the marks of the feet of clay of so many great men is that little change and that little trait of peevishness, and littleness, and insignificances about them? For example, Jonah: Jonah was a preacher, greatest preacher ever lived outside of Jesus; Jesus said so. When He took an example of a man who could preach and bring a whole city to repentance, He chose the example of Jonah [Matthew 12:41]. And Jonah was a fearless prophet of God, entering that great capital of Assyria, entering into Nineveh, and he accosted princes to their faces, and he conquered myriads [Jonah 3:1-10]. Now I want you to watch him. He is pouting because a cucumber vine over his head has withered. He is mad because a worm has cut through the root of a gourd. And he’s all in a stew and a dither over a bower of melon leaves [Jonah 4:7-9]. That’s Jonah. Like a great, good man will accept a tremendous financial loss in holy resignation, and then go to pieces and get angry and fall into tantrums because just before he was to meet an engagement there’s a button gone from his shirt, and just “raise old Billy Ned” around the house. All of those things, we create them ourselves. And you’d never do it, were you to be humble under the mighty hand of God [1 Peter 5:6]; you’d never be that way. And I’m preaching to me, not to you.
But dear people, there are a lot of cares that come upon us that we can’t bear ourselves, and we have to take them to God, who is all and omnipotent. “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” [1 Peter 5:7]. Well, what cares do you mean, pastor? I mean cares like this: I mean spiritual cares. What are we going to do, we who are sinners? And how is it we’re finally going to enter that beautiful city? The enemy may get to us and destroy us, and our faith may fail and our little lamp may go out. What am I going to do about my sins? Casting all your care and burden upon Him. . .
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness . . . For the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sins.
[1 John 1:9, 7]
But Lord, I’m so undeserving. Yes, but God says:
While we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Scarcely for a righteous man would one die, yet peradventure for a good man one would dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
But Lord, how do I know I won’t fail by the way, and fall before I get there? Lord, how do I know I’ll be kept? How do I know someday I’ll see God’s face, that I’ll join with the saints of glory in that great day when God’s people appear before His face? How do I know that I won’t fall? He said, “I give unto My sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish” [John 10:27-28]. He said, “I am confident of this thing, that He that hath begun a good work in you will continue it until the day of Jesus Christ” [Philippians 1:6]. He hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” [Hebrews 13:5]. He hath said:
Yea, when thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the floods, I will not forsake thee. And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm thee. And when thou walkest through the fire, they shall not burn thee; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design.
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for the repose,
I’ll never, no never, desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
[“How Firm a Foundation,” by John Keene]
“Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” [1 Peter 5:7].
What kind of cares we take to God? Kingdom cares. Do you ever worry about God’s kingdom in the earth? I tell you it takes all of the forbearance that a man can command to read these headlines of our present newspapers, one victory after another by the powers of darkness. And our own nation, a despair to some of us who do pray for her welfare; and yet, I am not to forget that Christ was lifted up on the point of a Roman spear [John 19:34]. And I am not to forget that the light of the gospel has shown most brilliantly and bright when it has burned around the stake of God’s martyrs and God’s faithful witnesses. “Fret not thyself because of evildoers” [Psalm 37:1]. This world still lies in the hands of God [1 Samuel 2:7-9].
But Lord, it’s a burden to me. How feeble are my efforts, and how little I can do to extend Thy kingdom and to name Thy name in the earth. O Lord, that I could do more. And what I do do seems so feeble, and so often seemingly falls to the ground. “Ah,” says the Lord, “this is as unto Me: when you preach, and when you work, and when you give, and when you pray; and I will take care.”
Mrs. Truett, when I first came here to be pastor of this church, told me that sometimes in his younger days Dr. Truett would fall into despondency after he preached; he didn’t seem to do it well and God never honored it with a great harvest and a great increase. And he’d be discouraged and say to his wife, “Dear, I should have preached another sermon. I should have brought another kind of a message.” And she said to me, “I always told him,” now listen, ‘When you have preached the best you know how, and after prayer, you have chosen the message for that hour, leave it with God. Leave it with the Lord.’” After we’ve done our little best, and after we’ve done our humblest for God, then it’s in His care and in His hands. It is ours to preach; it is God’s to convert. It is ours to dig the well; it is God’s to fill it with water. It is ours to labor; it is God’s to give the increase. It is ours to sow the seed; it is God’s to raise up the harvest. “Casting all your care upon him”; kingdom cares [1 Peter 5:7].
All your cares upon Him: business cares [1 Peter 5:7]. There’s not a businessman in our generation that isn’t harassed on every side; fierce competition and all of the things that press him from the government on down and from “on down” up to the highest echelons. And men strive, and they work, and they invest, and they toil; then they’re cut off, then they’re decimated and they have great difficulties. Well, take it to God [Philippians 4:6-7]. Make God a partner in your life and in your work, at your job, and in your business.
I heard of a young fellow one time that went to his mother, a dear sainted mother, and said, “Mother, I have been invited to have a part in a deal that will make me rich. But Mother, it’s off-colored and I don’t know what to do. What shall I do, Mother?” And the mother looked at her boy, and said, “Son, listen: when I prepare your breakfast early in the morning, I go to the head of the stairway, and I say, ‘John, John,’ and there’s not any answer. And I go up, ‘John,’ and there’s not any answer. And I go into your room and I shake you and I say, ‘John, it’s time for you to get up. Your breakfast is ready, John.’” And the mother said, “John, I would hate some morning to go to the head of the stairway and call you, ‘John!’ and find you wide awake.”
A man is a thousand times better off if what he does, he is doing unto the Lord. It’s right. It’s good. It’s honest. It’s fair. And I may lose my job or I may not make that wealth or I may not achieve that place, but when I lie down at night, my heart is free and my life is pure; and what I’m doing I am doing as unto God [Colossians 3:23]. And I believe God Himself will see a man through who will take the cares of his business and of his life to the Lord.
One time Queen Elizabeth said to a merchantman, “I want you to do a mission for me in the East Indies.” And the merchantman replied, “Oh, but Your Majesty, while I am gone, my merchandising establishment will go to ruin.” And the queen said, “You go do my work for me, and I’ll take care of your work for you.” And the merchantman did it; and he went on the mission for his queen. And when he came back, Queen Elizabeth had so run his merchandising establishment, and it was so known that she was doing it, that the man when he came back found himself rich, trusting it into the hands of his queen.
Jesus one time said to Simon Peter, “Simon, let Me borrow your boat; I need it for a pulpit to preach in.” And Simon Peter loaned his boat for the Master to preach in [Luke 5:3]. But what about Simon Peter’s fishing business? Oh, you wait a minute. After Jesus had borrowed the boat of Simon, He said to the big fisherman, “Launch out now, and let your net down just there” [Luke 5:4-7]. And Simon Peter did it; and he caught more fish in ten minutes, having loaned his boat to Jesus, than otherwise he would have done in ten weeks on his own account. Take it to the Lord and trust it to God, and let the Lord see you through [Philippians 4:6-7].
My time is gone. I want to skip over so much I had prepared, but I want to take time for one other thing, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” [1 Peter 5:7]. In this little closing word, I want to talk about the care that every parent, every good parent, feels about the children. You travail in labor and pain until Christ be formed in them [Galatians 4:19]. Take it to God, and quietly trust in His grace [Philippians 4:6-7].
“The Master has come over Jordan,”
Said Hannah, the mother, one day;
“He is healing the people who throng Him
With a touch of His hand, they say.
And now I shall carry the children,
Little Rachel and Samuel and John,
I shall carry the baby, Esther,
For the Lord to look upon.”
The father beheld her kindly,
As he shook his head and smiled;
“Now who but a doting mother
Would think of a thing so wild?
If the children were tortured by demons,
Or dying of fever—‘twere well—
Or had they the taint of the leper,
Like many in Israel.”
Said the mother:
“Nay, do not hinder me, Nathan,
I feel such a burden of care,—
If I carry it to the Master,
I know I can leave it there.
If He lay His hand on the children,
My heart will be lighter, I know,
For a blessing for ever and ever
Will follow them wherever they go.”
So over the hills of Judah,
Along by the vine-rows green,
With Esther asleep on her bosom,
And Rachel her brothers between;
Among the people who hung on His teaching,
Or waited His touch and His word,
Through the row of proud Pharisees listening,
She pressed to the feet of the Lord.
“Now why shouldest thou hinder the Master,”
said Peter, “with children like these?
Knowest thou from morning till evening
He teacheth, and healeth disease?”
Got big things to do, no time for children.
But Christ said, “Forbid not the children,
Permit them to come unto Me!”
And He took in His arms little Esther,
And Rachel He sat on His knee;
And the heavy heart of the mother
Was lifted, all earth-care above,
As He laid His hand on the brothers,
And blessed them with tenderest love;
And He said of the babes in His bosom,
“Of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
And strength for all duty and trial,
That hour to the mother was given.
[“Christ and the Little Ones,” by Julia Gill]
“Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” [1 Peter 5:7]. Make it a matter of prayer [Philippians 4:6-7].
Do you have a burden? Take it to Jesus. Is there a conflict unresolved in your life? Take it to the Lord [Philippians 4:6-7]. Is there a burden greater than you can bear? Take it to Jesus. “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” [1 Peter 5:6-7]. Blessed, blessed you; blessed, blessed me, if I can remember to bow in His presence, and to leave that burden at His blessed feet [Psalm 55:22].
Now, while we sing our hymn of invitation, are there not many of you this morning who ought to come? Shouldn’t you? Come just as you are, just as you are. “I’ve got a lot of problems, but God can help me. Got a lot of difficulties; but I’m looking to Jesus. I’m a lost sinner; but He died to save me” [1 Corinthians 15:3]. “In my life I took Jesus as my Savior [Romans 10:9-10], now I want to be with this blessed congregation.” I cannot say the word; the Spirit must say it [John 16:8]. But if the Lord bids you come, would you make it this morning? If you’re in this balcony, come down one of these stairways, and to me. If you’re on this lower floor, into the aisle, they’ll let you pass. If you’re right in the middle of the pew, step to the aisle; they’ll be glad to let you pass, and come down here to the pastor. “Pastor, I give you my hand; my heart in trust I give to God” [Ephesians 2:8]. Or, “This is my family; we’re all coming this morning.” As the Spirit of Jesus shall lead in the way, would you make it now, while we stand and while we sing?