DAILY DEVOTION - MAY 6
Listen to excerpts from today's daily devotion on this video.
This Daily Devotion is from A Living Hope, by Sarah Viggiano Wright, published by Bible Study Media, and made available to us through Presbyterian Women.
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, 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
Every family has a set of expectations for its members, particularly what those members show forth to the world. A family may coach their kids with a mantra like, “We’re the Browns. We never give up!” Another may have the motto, “Work Hard, Stay Humble.” Or, perhaps a family has a family Bible verse for visitors to observe, such as, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
Sometimes a family’s expectations stem from their reputation. My grandfather was the respected town doctor in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. My grandmother constantly reminded my dad and his brothers to make sure they left the house wearing clean underwear “in case something happens!” My family laughs about this, especially the thought that the sons’ undergarments might reflect poorly on their father.
What a family expects tells you a lot about their self-identity and their values. The Christian family is no different; who we are in Jesus informs what we do.
So, who are we?
Well, those of us in the Christian family have Christ’s identity—the word “Christian” means “those belonging to Christ” or “those who bear Christ’s name.” In being identified with Christ, we are co-heirs of his inheritance. We also look forward to a glorious future with him because our identity is in him. This is who we are as Christians.
Next comes what we do. Here, Peter’s letter is consistent with many passages of Scripture that follow a pattern called “indicatives, then imperatives.” Indicatives are statements of fact—they focus on identity. Imperatives are commands—they focus on action. Simply put, the pattern goes like this: “In light of what is true, this is what to do.” For Christians, God identifies or provides, then he instructs or guides.
Peter’s shift in focus from our identity in Jesus to the desired actions stemming from that identity is marked by the word “therefore” in verse 13, in which we see our first command: “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Peter is saying, “You all, keep your hope wholly set on Jesus. In awareness of your true identity, act correspondingly and consistently holy. Since you know trials are coming, be ready, knowing that Jesus has the victory. Since you know you belong to God and not to the world, brace yourselves to stand out. Since the world is dark and you are light, be prepared to shine. And since you suffer at the hands of hostility, be set on praising God and living a righteous life in the midst of it.” These are words of disciplined and decisive action.
My more literal and wooden translation of verse 13 is, “Therefore, having girded up the loins of your minds, and being sober-minded, fully set your hope upon the grace being brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Let’s break this down. In the Ancient Near East, when people spoke about parts of our humanity like “the mind,” “the soul,” or “the heart,” they didn’t compartmentalize each section, assigning it an individual and unrelated function as we often do now. Modern expressions like “my head says ‘no,’ but my heart says ‘yes’” would have been highly irregular in their conversations (though in Romans 7:15–25 there is some wrestling with trying to harmonize our faculties). One could speak of the mind’s (and not just the heart’s) desires. Each part was representative of the whole, integrated person. Thus, “preparing your minds for action” signifies being wholly ready—mind, soul, heart, and body—in your full person.
“Girding up your loins,” while a comical phrase, is an interesting and illustrative word-picture. In the culture of the day, men wore tunics with fabric often flowing down to the ankles. The long and weighty garments could hinder men from heavy labor, running, or fighting in battle. So, to gain mobility, the fabric was gathered above the knee, wrapped around the legs, and then secured near the loins. It was a physical preparation made to accomplish strenuous work—the ancient way of saying, “Roll up your sleeves.”
This proverbial “girding of the loins” links the first twelve verses of 1 Peter to the remainder of the letter. “Therefore,” or “since” you all know you are God’s and that you will endure trials, “get your minds ready for battle!” The rest of the letter instructs us how to do this, as we will see.
So, how do we gird the loins of our minds? First, by being aware and self-controlled. Peter calls this state of being “sober-mindedness,” referring to a broad concept of sobriety—namely, avoiding any obsessive, excessive, or abusive vices or actions that separate us from God, confuse our mission, or challenge our hope in God.
Amid life’s often discouraging and ongoing hardships, it is understandable that we want to escape or numb our pain, particularly the hurt we experience from long-term suffering, loneliness, hostility, ostracization, or persecution, like Peter’s readers were undergoing. However, any persons, behaviors, or substances that distract us from fixing our hope on Jesus will likely leave us in some sort of “stupor” and susceptible to outside forces, causing us to falter in our faith (cf. 1 Peter 5:8).
However, we are called to have minds that are sober, not somber. We are to strive for unhindered, glad hope in Jesus as we stay alert and await the future glory that will be ours in Christ. Jesus being “the object” of our hope is reason for gratitude and delight—not gloom and despondency!
Finally, with this preparation of our whole persons and our whole hope fixed on Jesus, we are to keep the end in mind. The second habit Dr. Stephen Covey prescribes in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is: “Begin with the end in mind.” Covey argues that, with a clear idea of the end result you want, you will make focused, clear decisions directed toward your destination.
The same principle is true for our lives as Christians.
Because we know the end—Jesus is coming back and the fullness of salvation will be ours—we can fully set, fix, and prepare every part of ourselves to be living for Christ, no matter what comes. We can actively build our lives toward this end.
There is to be no partial giving of ourselves to Jesus, but a wholehearted, holistic dependence on him and his promises. There is no other hope upon which to build a secure foundation than hope in Jesus Christ. Let’s fix our hope securely on him today.