“Therefore, preparing your minds for action (girding up the loins of your mind, KJV), and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:13 (ESV)
God the Father held nothing back to save us. He walked on our earth, felt temptation to sin through our flesh, suffered the poverty of going from riches to rags, and gave up his life into the hands of the ones He gave life to. Jesus won us a glorious salvation through sacrifice greater than we can even comprehend. How should I respond? With devotion.
Devotion is described in the dictionary as “profound dedication“. I have gotten in the habit of calling the time I spend reading my Bible and in prayer, my devotions, as I’m sure many contemporary Christians also would. I can honestly and sadly say, however; that it has not been a time of profound dedication. Peter is instructing the church in verse 13 (which includes us) to be wholeheartedly devoted to living out the gospel every day until Jesus appears.
There are three responses to our salvation that Peter covers in this one verse.
1. Prepare your minds for action (gird up the loins of your mind KJV)
2. Be sober-minded
3. Set your hope fully on the grace (of the gospel)
In Matthew Henry’s commentary preparing your mind for action is described like this, “You have a journey to go, a race to run, a warfare to accomplish, and a great work to do; as the traveller, the racer, the warrior, and the labourer, gather in, and gird up, their long and loose garments, that they may be more ready, prompt, and expeditious in their business, so do you by your minds, your inner man, and affections seated there: gird them, gather them in, let them not hang loose and neglected about you; restrain their extravagances”.
Men in Jesus day would dress in long robes, but if they were to compete in a race or fight in a battle, or if they were going to work in a field or had a long distance to travel they would gather (or gird) them up so that they would not be hindered or slowed down by them. In the same way there are so many distractions, schedules, thoughts and plans to consume our minds and to “hang loose and neglected”. Just this afternoon I had a decision to make about something I had scheduled for this evening. Three nights a week I have been going to an exercise class and it has been a great thing to do. I feel stronger and less tired, but over the summer and through a busy September I have been distracted from the action that I have been called to in God’s word. This verse from 1 Peter 1:13 was ringing in my ears today and reminding me that my first call of duty is to be profoundly dedicated to keeping close to the hem of His robe, to studying His instructions for me, and to keeping my mind set on eternity.
I plan on returning to my exercise class once I’ve gathered up the loose garments of my busy schedule and put them in their proper place…. second to Jesus. On this note, Matthew Henry also said, “..disengage yourselves from all that would hinder you, and go on resolutely in your obedience.” This isn’t about cancelling our entire calendar, sitting at home and reading our Bible’s non-stop (although there is something wonderfully appealing about that thought), it’s about being willing to set aside planned activities sometimes for a time and sometimes for good that hinder our obedience to the Lord, whether it’s because the occupation is taking away from our personal time spent with Him, or because it causes us to long for the things of world more than Christ, or whatever. I cannot fully enjoy or have peace in the things I choose to do with my time unless I am doing them with an eternal perspective, and I cannot have an eternal perspective if my mind is not full of God’s word.
At first glance the term sober minded might seem like God is asking us to be serious all the time, no smiles, no laughter, rules, rules, rules…in other words, BORING. But let’s look down the road a little to the end of the book of 1 Peter where Peter uses the term sober minded again,
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)
Sober minded is not a restrictive command to live like a prude, but a signal to be alert, and aware, and prepared for the battle that advances on us each day to try to keep us from knowing God more, from falling in love with him more, from spreading the truth of the gospel that we’ve been given, and ultimately to try to devour, or destroy us. Being sober, in this context, is abstaining from the lure of sin and having the self-control that is a fruit of the Spirit to view the world around us from the scope and lens of the Word of God and what He says is true and what is a lie.
What are we living for?
At the end of the day, and as we look ahead to tomorrow, and next month, and next year…..we’ve got to stop and think about what we’re living for. Are we just trying to survive another day at the job or with our kids, are we planning and saving for the next vacation or big purchase, maybe just waiting eagerly for Friday and the new movie that comes out? If we really believe that one day the skies WILL part and trumpets WILL sound and our Savior WILL come, then that thought should govern the choices we make each day and also our plans for the future.
Our hope is not in the next cheque, it doesn’t depend on whether or not we make it to Bible Study this week, it’s not about our children or grandchildren or spouse, and it is not based on how comfortable or uncomfortable our life is at this present moment…. in fact, if your life is uncomfortable right now it’s probably the best motivation to keep your focus on the day of Christ’s appearing!
When my hope is set on the fullness of grace that will cover me on the day I meet Christ then the things that are stressing me out today totally melt away. Sure, the current reality of daily pressures are still there, but the angst is removed because I know that God is Sovereign and that His will WILL be done.
Grace & Peace,
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
- C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)