1 Peter 1:13-16
Why gird up the loins of your mind, be sober…
"Girding up the loins of your mind, being sober, hope" is the accurate reproduction of the form of the original. "Hope" is the principal exhortation, arid it is to be fulfilled by bracing up the mind and by sobriety. The Revised Version, which has partially shown this construction in its rendering, has given the more accurate "perfectly," instead of "to the end." It is a question, first, of the quality, and only after that of the duration of the hope. If our hope be perfect it will take care of itself in another respect, and be permanent.
I. THE OBJECT ON WHICH THIS CHRISTIAN HOPEFULNESS IS TO FASTEN, like a limpet on a rock. "The grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Here "grace" means the sum of the felicities of a future life. That is clear from two considerations — that this grace is the object of our hope all through life, which only an object beyond the grave can be, and also that its advent is contemporaneous with the revelation of Jesus Christ. The expression, though unusual, is valuable because it brings out two things. It reminds us that whatever of blessedness we may possess in the future it is all a gratuitous, unmerited gift of that loving God to whom we owe everything. And then there is another thought suggested by this word, namely, the substantial identity of the Christian life here and hereafter. Grace is glory in the bud, glory is grace in the flower; and all which we hope for in the future is but the evolving of that which is planted in our hearts today, if we love Him, though it may have to fight with much antagonism to itself both without us and within. The inheritance is a hope, but the earnest of the inheritance, which is of the same stuff as the inheritance, is a present possession. Further, this grace is on its way to us. It is "being brought," as the margin of the Revised Version has it; or "a-bringing," as Leighton translates it. It is on its road as if some band of strong-winged angels had already left the throne, and, like them who bore the Holy Grail, were steadily flying nearer and nearer to us. With all the power of strong winds and waves lifting it on, it is bearing down upon us as a ship at sea. By all the passions and convulsions of earth the day of the Lord is hastened on its course. Further, this grace, which is on its way to us, is wrapped up in the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is brought to us encased in that revelation, like a fair jewel in a golden setting. When He who "is our life shall be manifested," says another apostle, then shall we also "be manifested with Him in glory." As in an old picture you will sometimes see a saint represented as standing near the Master with a glory encompassing him, that rays from the Christ, so our glory in the future is all to be hut the effluence and the reflection of His glory. Why should we let our hopes go trailing along the ground, like some poor creeping plant that the gardener has forgotten to put a stick to, when they might lift themselves to the heavens? Why should you ever feed your hopes upon the bread that perishes, and sometimes upon husks, when you may feed them on angels' food? Why should you confine your hope within the limits of this world when it might expand to the width of that great eternity that lies there before you through which you may let your hope wander at will? Set your hope there, and then it will never be ashamed or confounded.
II. THE PERFECT HOPE WHICH GRASPS THE PERFECT OBJECT. "Hope perfectly" would be the true rendering, it being a question not at all of duration but of "quality." There are all degrees of hope from the most doubtful "peradventure" up to almost certainty. But there is always a kind of doubt and dread mingling with hope. A certain wistful look as of one who knows not what may be drawing on is ever in Hope's blue eyes; and "hopes, and fears that kindle hope" are an indistinguishable throng. That is necessarily so, because here our hopes are fixed on contingent, external things, and are mostly born of our wishes rather than of reasonable probabilities. Therefore, this exhortation here, in effect, bids us lift our hopes higher, and set them on God that they may be sure. Are we letting our hearts lead our hopes astray after the will-o'-the-wisps of earth, instead of ordering their march by the pole star of God's faithful promise? Does our hope leap up to lay hold on that cord let down from heaven, and by it to climb above the level of mutation and disappointment?
III. THE SELF-DISCIPLINE BY WHICH THE PERFECT HOPE IS MAINTAINED. Girding up the loins of the mind and being "sober" are the two great means to that end. The first of them enjoins concentration of mind and will, a determined effort to realise the future and persistently to hope in the teeth of all discouragement. Travellers, servants, soldiers have to brace up their robes and buckle them tight with their girdles. So we have to gather up our thoughts and cultivate the habit of fixed attention to unseen things. The loosely braced mind will be unable to cherish a lively hope; a man with his robes flapping about his feet cannot run. They hinder his stride, catch in the briars, get trodden on by rivals. There are many difficulties in the way of our Christian hope. It is hard to keep its light burning through the darkness of the night and the howling of the storm. Why, a man cannot have earthly hopes bright unless he concentrates his thoughts upon them. And how can our hope of heaven be clear, triumphant, unless we coerce our vagrant imaginations and loose flowing affections and by a dead lift and effort set our hopes in God? Wherefore, brace up the loins of your minds and hope. "Be sober." Rigid self-control and repression are needed for such a hope. The clear eye of hope cannot see the land that is very far off through the fogs that rise from the undrained marshes of our animal nature. In this sense, too, the flesh lusts against the spirit. But not only must bodily appetites be held well in hand, all desires that go out towards the present must be subdued. Hope follows desire. The vigour of our hopes is affected by the warmth of our desires. The warmth of our desires towards the future depends largely on the turning away of our desires from the present.
(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;