1 Peter 1:13-16
Why gird up the loins of your mind, be sober…
I. We note THE REMARKABLE DESIGNATION HERE OF THE OBJECT OF CHRISTIAN HOPE — "The grace that is to be brought unto you at the appearing of Jesus Christ." Now, it is interesting to notice the various phases under which the future perfecting of the Christian life and felicity in heaven is set forth in the New Testament. Sometimes we read of the object of our hope as being the resurrection from the dead. Sometimes we read of the "hope of righteousness"; sometimes we read of the "hope of eternal life"; sometimes of the "hope of the glory of God"; sometimes of the "hope of salvation." But all these are but the many facets of the one jewel, flashing many coloured and yet harmonious light. Peter adds another general expression when he sums up the felicities and perfectness of that future life in this remarkable and unusual phrase, "the grace that is to be brought." "Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life"; and no man of the countless nations of the blessed can say, "Give me the portion for which I have worked," but all must bow and say, "Give me from thine own loving heart that which I do not deserve," "the grace that is to be brought at the appearing of Jesus Christ." Such, then, is the object of Christian hope, stated in its most general terms, a grace which includes resurrection, salvation, righteousness, eternal life, the glory of God, and that grace ever tending towards us, and that ever tending grace to be ours in its fulness, when Christ is manifested and "we shall be manifested with Him in glory." How different in its dignity, in its certainty, in its remoteness, which is a blessing — how different from the paltry, shortsighted anticipations of a near future which delude us along the path of earthly effort!
II. NOTICE THE ENJOINED PERFECTION OF CHRISTIAN HOPE. What constitutes perfect hope? First, theft it shall be certain; and no earthly hope is so. If my anticipations are set upon contingent things they must vary with their objects. You cannot build a solid house on a quagmire; you must have rock for that. So, the only perfect hope is that which grasps a perfect certainty. Christian hope ought to be, if I might so say, screwed up to the level of that on which it is fastened. It is a shame that Christian people should be wavering in their anticipations of that which in itself is certain. Again, the perfection of hope lies in its being patient, persistent through discouragements, burning bright in the darkness, like a pillar of fire by night; and most of all in its being operative upon life, and contributing to steadfastness of endurance and to energy of effort. This is exactly what the feeble and fluctuating hopes of earth never do. For the more a man is living in anticipation of an uncertain good, the less is he able to fling himself with wholeness of purpose and effort into the duties or enjoyments of the present. But a perfect hope will be the ally and not the darkener of the brightness of the present. And if we hope as we should for that we see not, then shall we with patience wait for it. Here, then, is the sort of hope which it is laid upon us Christian people consciously to try to cherish, one which is fixed and certain, one which is the mother of patience and endurance, one which persists through, and triumphs over all trouble and sorrow, one which nerves us for effort and opens our eyes to appreciate the blessings of the present, and one which wars against all uncleanness, and lifts us up in aspiration and aim towards the purity of Jesus Christ. We are neglecting a plain duty and impoverishing ourselves unnecessarily by the want of a treasure which belongs to us, unless we are making conscious efforts for our increase in hope as in faith and charity. Think of the blessedness of living thus, lifted up above all the uncertainties that rack men when they think about tomorrow. Try to realise the blessedness of escaping from the disappointments which come from all earthward turned expectations. The brightest blaze of Christian hope may be on the verge of the darkness of the grave.
III. Lastly, THE DISCIPLINE OF CHRISTIAN HOPE. "Gird up the loins of your mind." It suggests that there is a great deal in this life that makes it very difficult for us to keep firm hold of the facts, on which alone a perfect hope can be built. Unless we tighten up our belt, and so put all our strength into the effort, the truths of the resurrection which beget to a lively hope, of the great salvation wrought by Jesus Christ, of the meaning and end of all our trials and sorrows, will slip away from us, and we shall be left at the mercy of the varying anticipations of good or evil which may emerge from the varying circumstances of the fleeting moment. "Be sober." That means, not only gather yourselves together with a consecrated effort, but "keep your heel well down on the necks of lower and earthly desires." The fleshly lusts that belong to everybody must be subdued. That goes without saying. But, then, there are others more subtle, more refined, but not less hostile to the perfectness of a heaven-directed hope than are these grosser ones. We must keep down all the desires and appetites of our nature, both of the flesh and of the spirit. For we have only a certain quantity of energy to expend, and if we expend it upon the things of earth there is nothing left for the things above. If you take the river, and lead it all out into the gardens that are irrigated by it, or into the stream that drives your mills, its bed will be left bare, and little of the water will reach the great ocean which is its home. We may, if we will, be as certain of the future as of the past. We may, if we will, have a hope which maketh us not ashamed. We may have a great light burning steadily, like a lamp fed with abundant oil, and shielded from every wind. We may see His coming shining afar off, and be warranted in saying, not merely "we hope," but "we know, that when He shall appear we shall be like Him." This Christ-given hope is the only one that persists through calamity, old age, and death.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;