LEARN HUMILITY FROM PETER
Simon Peter was the leader of the disciples (Matthew 9:35-10:4; Mark 6:6-9; Luke 9:1-2). Originally named Simon, Jesus changed it to Peter to describe his eventual strength and stability (Matthew 16:18; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14; John 1:42). He was a very outgoing, friendly, talkative person who liked everyone and wanted everyone to like him. Unfortunately, though, he often didn’t have a lot of self-discipline. He met Jesus through his brother Andrew who was a follower of John the Baptizer (John 1:40-41). Jesus challenged him to leave his fishing nets and follow Him full time (Matthew 4:13-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 4:31; 5:1-11). Peter was a natural leader, but only because of his forceful personality. It took a while for him to learn how to be a godly leader. Jesus patiently worked with him through his mistakes to help him become one of the greatest leaders in the early church. He’ll do the same with us if we let Him.
A person can’t be a godly leader if he isn’t humble. Pride is self-centeredness, but a godly leader must be God-centered. We can’t be both at the same time; we are one or the other. Peter had a big problem with pride, and until God taught him to be humble, he wasn’t very usable for God. God often teaches us humility by letting us fail when we do something out of pride. That’s what happened with Peter as well. Peter wouldn’t let Jesus wash his feet when He washed the others (John 13:1-20). Sometimes it’s hard to humble ourselves and let God minister to us, to accept His forgiveness for our sins, to encourage us when discouraged, or to let Him help us when we think we can do something by ourselves. It’s important to learn to do that.
Soon after washing his feet, Jesus told Peter he would deny Him (Matthew 26:34; Mark 14:30; Luke 22:34; John 13:38). Peter thought he was too strong and that would never happen (Matthew 26:35; Mark 14:31). He didn’t heed Jesus’ warning because he trusted in himself. But Peter did deny Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:55-60; John 18:16-27).
It started with Peter’s pride and self-confidence in not letting Jesus wash his feet then insisting Jesus was wrong and he wouldn’t deny Jesus. Jesus warned that Satan was going to sift him like wheat, but Peter thought he knew better (Luke 22:31-38). Then in Gethsemane, when Jesus told them to pray, they wouldn’t fall into temptation, Peter fell asleep and didn’t pray. When Jesus was arrested, Peter attacked Malchus, and Jesus again had to correct him. Peter was doing what Peter wanted, not what Jesus wanted. When He was arrested, Jesus told the disciples to flee, but Peter followed, pretending to be someone who didn’t know Jesus. Peter’s lack of humbly trusting what Jesus said led to his denials. In his pride he thought he wouldn’t ever deny Jesus, but he did – 3 times!
When the rooster crowed, Peter remembered Jesus’ warning. At that very moment he saw the bloody and beaten Jesus and realized Jesus had heard him curse and deny knowing Him. Terrible shame and guilt came over him. He hadn’t wanted to fail Jesus, but he did. He failed in that which was most important to him, staying faithful to Jesus.
Peter learned a lesson he never forgot that night, though. He knew he couldn’t trust himself, that he was too weak to have victory without Jesus’ help. His pride was broken, and he humbled himself to Jesus. We see a different Peter in the book of Acts. He put his confidence in Jesus, not in himself, and God used him in mighty ways. He wrote, warning others to be alert to Satan’s temptations (1 Peter 5:8-9) and to stay humble (1 Peter 3:8; 5:5-7). Learning humility was a very painful lesson for Peter, but it is one he had to learn to be useful for God.
That is true for each of us who would serve Him today as well (Psalm 51:17). Paul, too, had a problem with self-sufficiency and pride. God gave him his “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). In His love, He will do whatever is necessary to break us from our pride as well.
Would your mate say you have a problem with pride? Pride is easy to see in others but very hard to see in ourselves. Can you listen and learn when someone corrects you? Are you quick to apologize when you hurt someone? Will you admit it when you are wrong about something? Do you blame others when things fail? Are there people you look down on and don’t think are as important as you are? Do you think you are due special privileges from God or others because of your position of leadership?
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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