|1 Peter 5:5-6 |
5 Likewise, you [spiritually] younger people, submit yourselves to the elder.4 All of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility, "for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble."
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that in due time he may exalt you,
4 You younger people, submit yourselves to the elder. The spiritual younger is supposed to submit to the spiritual elder, who obviously has more spiritual maturity. You must understand that different people have different measures of the Spirit of Christ, not everyone is equal. There is only one King, and that is Christ for all; but among his subjects, not all have the same gifts, authority, and responsibility. As another great worthy of the Lord, Isaac Penington, said:
And Friends, you that are weak, bless God for the strong; you that have need of a pillar to lean upon, bless God, that has provided pillars in his house; and, in fear and the guidance of his Spirit, make use of these pillars; who are faithful, and have ability from God, in his power and glorious presence with them, to help to sustain his building, even as they had ability from the Lord to gather unto him. He that despises him that is sent, despises Him that sent him; and he that undervalues any gift, office, or work, that God has bestowed upon any person, despises the wisdom and disposal of the Giver. Are all fathers? Have all overcome the enemy? Are all grown up in the life? Are all stars in the firmament of God's power? Has God made all equal? Are there not different states, different degrees, different growths, different places, etc.?
Then, if God has made a difference, and given degrees of life, and gifts different, according to his pleasure; what wisdom and spirit is that, which does not acknowledge this, but would make all equal? Oh my Friends! Fear before the Lord; honor the Lord in his appearances, and in the differences which he has made among the children of men, and among his people. He gave prophets of old, and the rest of the people were not equal with them. He gave evangelists, apostles, pastors, teachers, etc., and the other members of the churches were not equal with them. He has given fathers and elders now, and the babes and young men are not equal with them. Thus it is, in truth, from the Lord; and what is of God in you, will so acknowledge it.
Therefore watch, everyone, to feel and know his own place and service in the body, and to be sensible of the gifts, places, and services of others; that the Lord may be honored in all, and everyone owned and honored in the Lord, and not otherwise.
William Caton, a young Quaker minister, was lamenting over his small stature in Christ, compared to some senior Quaker worthies he had observed, when the Lord gave him this classic understanding:
The Lord showed me how they that had much, had nothing left over; and they that had little, had no lack — just like it was with the Israelites of old. For the brethren who were wise and eminent, who had received much from the Lord, notice there was that much more required of them; so that of all they had, they had nothing over, but what they were to employ in the work and service of God.
Moses faced a rebellion from Dathan and others; the rebels said to Moses and Aaron: You take too much upon yourselves, seeing all the congregation are holy, everyone of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you lift up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? Numbers 16:3. This is the classic mistake: to assume that everyone is equal in the Lord. Remember, Miriam and Aaron had already been severely scolded, with Miriam getting leprosy, for challenging Moses. Now the leadership of the tribes was challenging Moses. Their fallacious reasoning was: we are all holy, we are all equal, and the Lord is among us all. Dathan and his associates tried to make themselves equal to Moses and challenged his authority. In reply God opened up the earth and swallowed all of them, all of their possessions, their entire households, and all their supporters with their possessions; plus those who tried to make themselves priests were destroyed by fire from heaven. Num 16:30-35. When the congregation of Israel complained to Moses that he was destroying the children of Israel, God sent a plague on them that killed almost 15,000 of them. Num 16:45-49.
This is the error of presumption: I'm just as much a Christian as George; and the error of envy: who does he (a true leader) think he is, telling us not to sin?