1 Peter 1:13-16
Why gird up the loins of your mind, be sober…
The word "wherefore" bases the exhortation upon all that has preceded, not merely upon the sentence immediately before it.
I. THE DISCIPLINE NEEDED FOR CHRISTIAN HOPE. "Girding up the loins of your mind, be sober." Here are two practical injunctions, given as means towards a vigorous Christian hope. The first of these is too familiar to require many words. Girding up the loose garments was instinctively done before any kind of vigorous effort, whether it was pilgrimage, labour, or conflict. Elijah girded up his loins when he ran before Ahab's chariot. The soldier tightens his belt by another hole before the great struggle comes. The symbol, then, stands definitely here as expressing effort and concentration. There must be both, as Peter thinks, if there is to be any pulse of vitality throbbing under a Christian man's hope. And, says the apostle, thus making a concentrated effort to secure the vigour and clearness of hope, do another thing, "Be sober." Of course if I let my tastes, inclinations, desires, appetites, passions, run wild anywhere, there will be very little strength left me with which to hope for anything beyond. A man's mind is only capable of a given quantity of desire and expectation: and if he fritter it all away on the things seen and temporal, of course there will not be any left over for the things that are unseen. Every gardener knows that if he wants a tree to grow high he must pull off the side shoots, but if he likes to clip it at the top and take away the leader, it will grow nice and bushy down below. A man's mind obeys the same law.
II. THE CHARACTERISTICS AND QUALITIES OF THIS CHRISTIAN HOPE. As you are aware, our A.V. gives one translation of part of this verse, and the R.V. gives another. "Hope to the end," says the older. "Hope perfectly," says the newer and the better rendering. What are the imperfections that attach to men's hopes?
1. The first glaring one which attaches to the world's idea of hope is that it is something short of, less reliable than, certainty. We have not sufficiently concentrated our effort, nor have we sufficiently washed our hands of earthly follies and filths, so long as there is one shade of difference between the certitude with which we know today and the confidence with which, trusting to Christ, we expect the remotest eternity in the most glorious heavens.
2. Then there is another imperfection from which it is our duty and our joy to be able to clear our Christian hope, and that is that men's hopes fluctuate according to their moods and their circumstances. But the Christian man's hope should have this for the very signature of its perfection, that it is altogether independent of the changes of external circumstances. Nay! rather it should be like the pillar of fire that was only a thin film of smoke while the sunshine blazed, but kindled at its heart as darkness fell, and in the murkiest night was brightest and most blessed.
3. Then there is another imperfection which the Christian hope is permitted to put away from it; and that is that most of our hopes have no ennobling, no staying, no stimulating effect upon our lives. What a man hopes for he waits for with patience, and the perfection of the Christian hope is measured roughly by. this, the extent to which it is fruitful of all lowly, persistent adherence the most uncongenial, common place, and smallest duties.
III. THE OBJECT THAT IS HERE PROPOSES FOR HOPE. The apostle tells us to "hope for the grace," etc. There are three things we have to note here.
1. The loftiest hope of the furthest eternity is the hope of grace. We usually keep that word in contradistinction to glory as expressive of the gifts of God which we receive here upon earth in our pilgrimage. But the apostle here goes even deeper than that, and says, "Ah! it is all of a piece from the beginning to the end. The first gifts that a believing soul receives, whilst it is struggling here with darkness and light, are of the same sort as the eternal gifts that it receives when it stands before the throne, after millenniums of assimilation to the brightness and blessedness of Jesus Christ." They are all grace; the gifts of earth and heaven are one in their source and one in their nature.
2. Further, says the apostle, this grace is "being brought to you." The light that set out from the sun centuries ago has not reached some of the stars yet, but it is on the road. And the grace that is to be given to us has started from the throne, and it will be here presently. We are like men standing in the crowded streets of some royal city through which the king's procession has to pass. If we listened we have heard the guns fire that told that He had left the palace; and He will sweep in front of us and sweep us up into His train before very long. The grace is "being brought to us."
3. And it is being brought not merely at, but "in the revelation of Jesus Christ." "When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall we also be manifested together with Him in glory." The Christ in me will be manifested when Christ is manifested on His throne, and that will be my glory. If you can fancy a planet away out on the edge of our system, such as that one that welters in the fields of space, I know not how far from the central sun, and gets but a little portion of his light and warmth, and moves slowly in a torpid round; and imagine it laid hold of and borne right into the orbit of the planet next the sun, what a difference in its temperature, what a difference in the lustre and the light, what a difference in the swiftness of its motion there would be! We here are moving round a half-veiled Christ, and we get but little, and oh! we give less, of His light and glory. But the day comes when we shall be swept nearer the throne, and all the light that is manifested to us shall be incorporated within us.
(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;