Peter is coming to the close of his letter. He gives instructions first to the shepherds of the flock then to the members.
To the shepherds, Peter shares the same instructions that he himself lives by. They are fellow workers in this field. Even though Peter was an eyewitness to the life of Jesus, he does not put himself above his fellow shepherds. They are joint heirs of the promises of Jesus and the glory to come.
“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion but willingly. As God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your care but being examples to the flock” (verses 2-3). To start with, the shepherd is to care for the flock God gives him, not go seeking a “better” flock or coveting someone else’s flock. God knows His sheep and HE places them where He knows is best for them to be. He also knows the shepherds and what their “talents” are, as He gave them to them Himself. HE matches shepherd with flock and vice versa.
The shepherd is to serve willingly, not under compulsion. Shepherding a flock is NOT an easy task but it should bring joy with it. This should NOT be a drudging chore that one feels they HAVE to do just to receive a paycheck. If that is your reason for being in this position, it is a GOOD time to step down! That kind of shepherd is doing no one a service and is most likely misusing his position/authority.
One of best litmus tests for a good shepherd is the example they set. Are they “practicing what they preach?” Are they living a life, first and foremost, as pleasing unto God? This reminds me of one of Jesus’ parables; “How can you say to your brother ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own eye? You hypocrites! First take the beam out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:4-5). A shepherd needs to live a life that shows God is in control and on the throne. They are NOT perfect though and should NOT be held up as idols! God is the final focus. The shepherd simply points out the path to walk to reach Him. Our Chief Shepherd is the one to really follow.
Peter also gives instructions to the rest of us. “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (verse 5). We are all part of the “younger” group who sit under the shepherd and elders. This is instructions even for the shepherds, but especially for those under their care.
Don’t go looking for “specs” to clear out in your brothers. Don’t ignore flagrant sin either though. “If your brother sins against you, go and confront him privately. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, regard him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17). This doesn’t give license to go looking for faults but a pattern to follow when problems arise.
They say “misery loves company,” well so does joy! Peter reminds his readers that they are not alone in their suffering, nor are they alone in the anticipation of joy that lies ahead. Satan is out there seeking to tear you apart. But he can’t reach your spirit when it belongs to Jesus. He may succeed in killing your flesh but God has the final laugh on him. All he did was release you to the true joy waiting for you. “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (verses 9-10). Often this restoring, confirming and strengthening happens this side of Heaven, but if it doesn’t, you still have lost nothing! And notice that Peter tells us that GOD will do this work, not us. Let Him do His work and you follow where He leads. Let Him be Lord of your life and He will take care of the rest. YES, you will have troubles. But they are temporary. His love is eternal!
Father God, thank You for the struggles I face in my life. They keep me humble and leaning on You. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have an easy life; one with no struggles. Then I think back to what those struggles of the past have produced and am grateful for them. Those struggles drive me to my knees like nothing else can do. They have also taught me to stay there, in my heart, so I am never far from You. You have taught me the value of studying Your word through them. You have taught me to hold fast to Your promises. You have also taught me time and time again of the safety that comes when I remain in Your arms. THANK YOU for ALL the lessons I have learned on Your lap, including the ones that felt more like a spanking. They have shaped me into Your child of wonder and taught me more of Your love each day. Keep me coming and learning every day. Thank You that You don’t punish me when I miss a day of our special private time too. I miss out on the benefits of that day but I NEVER lose Your love! Thank You for holding me again Daddy as You pointed out the pictures in our book.