Sunday, 18 May 2014

Casting all our Care on God (1 Peter 5:7)

We are all aware that we live in a society marked by anxiety. People are worried about their finances, their families, their health, their security, their possessions because of the crime rate, and about many other things. We have the additional concerns connected to a declining influence of true Christianity in society and the resultant sidelining of the church. Within our own congregation there will always be matters causing anxiety, such as ill health in the physical state of our people and potential backsliding in our spiritual state.

In 1 Peter 5:7 the apostle tells his readers to cast all their care on God. They had their own concerns which affected them, such as the consequences of persecution and social ostracism. It is clear that anxiety is a universal problem, that it produces ugly consequences in our lives, which means that urgency is required in dealing with it. So what can we say about his instruction? 

First, Peter’s comment is a reminder of the bigness of God. It is as if Peter has a measurement tool and he compares all other possible remedies with God. The other remedies may be helpful in one or two areas of concern, but they cannot deal with every source of worry. But God can, says Peter. So his words remind us of the capability of God, that he is able to deal with every situation. There is not a circumstance in which we cannot cast anxiety about it on God. 

Second, Peter’s words are a reminder not to expect human leaders to be able to do what is beyond their abilities. He has just instructed his readers to obey their elders as they face the difficult circumstances they were about to enter. Those elders would do their best, but even their best at times is not enough. They are limited in their capabilities, even although they are shepherds who care for their spiritual flocks and spend a great deal of time and energy looking after them. But we should not regard them as if they had the caring capabilities of the Chief Shepherd. 

Third, Peter’s advice reveals that holding on to our concerns is not an expression of humility. Alexander Nisbet, a Scottish seventeenth-century author, wrote: ‘Misbelieving anxiety, whereby Christians break themselves with the burdens of these cares which God requires to be cast upon him, is one of the greatest signs of pride in the world; and to trust God with the weight of these in following our duty is a prime evidence of true humility.’ 

When a person retains them, it indicates self-sufficiency, which is an aspect of pride in any creature. Peter links ‘casting’ with humbling ourselves. Doing so is admitting that we cannot deal with any of our cares, be they great or small in our estimation. We might admit that we should hand big concerns over to God, but we are reluctant to hand over small ones because we imagine we can deal with them, and that is an expression of pride. We should treat every situation of anxiety as an opportunity to express our confidence in the Lord’s abilities. 

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