1 Peter 1:13 —
13 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.
Colossians 3:1-4 —
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
We are continuing our journey together through the hope found in 1 Peter, and I am extremely thankful for today’s passage.
There are so many things fighting for my attention and grabbing at my thoughts – outside voices and from within me. Fear and biased rhetoric are at all time highs in our society. I cannot speak for you, but my mind has been all over the place. It is easy for the doubts and fears in my mind to take over.
The Scripture we are looking at today can help us with this, but we need to realize what these verses are and are not supposed to do. Firstly, we need to realize that these verses are for people who have confessed Jesus as their Lord. There is no way for us to hope to get our minds under subjection if our lives are not subject to Him. Secondly, these verses are not magic words that will ward off the boogie-man of our wayward minds. They are “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching”; they are meant to teach us and correct us that we “may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
In this passage, Peter urges his readers to be “preparing [their] mind for action”. This is good advice, but it is much easier said than done.[i] To help us understand what Peter means, we need to look at what this phrase meant in the original language. This phrase, translated literally, would be to “gird up the loins of your mind”.
The idea of girding up one’s loins goes back thousands of years – back before pants and shorts – to when everyone, even warriors wore robes and tunics. So, if they ever needed to get anywhere quickly, they needed to (sort of) hitch up their skirt tails and confine them with their belt. It kept the soldiers from, literally, being tripped up.
To apply it to our lives and minds, think of all of the stray or wild thoughts that go through your mind on a daily basis – especially in times where your anxiety is heightened – as stray cloth that is tripping you up. The image is fitting. We find ourselves unable to think or focus because our thoughts are everywhere. So, Peter’s advice for us to gird up the loins of our mind – prepare our minds for action – means that we need to gather up our thoughts and pull them into submission, cinching them up in the “belt of truth” (Ephesians 6:14).
1 Peter 1:13 gives us another image to clarify what needs to happen in our minds when he urges his readers to be “sober-minded”. The idea of being sober contrasts that of being drunk. Just as alcohol or drugs alter one’s mind, our stray thoughts take our minds off where their focus should be and puts it elsewhere. When the mind of a believer loses its focus on Christ, it is no wonder we begin to feel hopeless. But we do not have to lose hope because our hope in Jesus is different than worldly hope – it is living (1 Peter 1:3)!
And that living hope is where our focus should be. I love the way that Peter puts it here: “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. In the case of setting our hope, I think the best illustration is a thermostat. But, before I show you that illustration, let us look at how Peter’s urge for us to “set” our hope on Christ fits with Paul’s in Colossians 3.
When we are urged to set our hope on Christ, it is quite specific. We are to set our hope “fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”, showing us that our hope is to be fixed on Jesus – specifically on the fact that He is coming back! Similarly, Paul begins in Colossians 3:1 with the idea that those who “have been raised with Christ” – born again, saved – should be seeking things from “where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God”. In other words, our hope is in what – Who – is coming.
Paul goes on to urge believers to “set [their] minds on things that are above” instead of “things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:3). Here we see Paul telling his readers to fix their attention on heavenly things rather than earthly things. This is where the thermostat comes into play.
A thermostat is a glorious invention – that is, if you are the one who gets to control it. One can set their thermostat on a temperature and – Lord willing, everything in the air conditioner is working correctly – that small box will control the temperature throughout a house. You set it to a temperature and leave the air conditioner to do its work. You do not have to will your air conditioner on or off. They even make thermostats that can control the temperature on a schedule, adapted to when you are away or at home. It should be the same for our minds and our hope.
I realize that setting one’s hope or one’s mind is not as easy as pressing buttons. I understand that it takes time to train one’s mind to react under certain circumstances. But I know that, if I leave my mind to its own devices, I will be of no good to anyone – much less be of use to the Kingdom of God. This is something that I am having to practice and use often.
As I stated at the beginning of this devotion, tensions and anxiety are at all-time highs in the world around us. But Jesus is still “seated at the right hand of God” and we still await “the grace that will be brought to [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. Paul Tripp asks a question that has stuck in my mind and challenged my fear and doubt: “Why allow yourself to fear the future when all of your days are held in the wise and loving hands of your Sovereign Savior King?” Our hope is in a King whose victory and return are fixed events in the future. If we believe that, we have faith that He has taken care of us, is taking care of us, and always will. But all of this talk is for nothing without hope in Christ.
This is very challenging for me because, apparently, I have a very specific sort of amnesia. I know Christ. I know and trust in His finished work on the cross. I know and trust that the tomb is empty and that He is at the right hand of the Father. I know that He has a plan for me. I just forget. But there is grace even in my forgetfulness. That grace is present in today’s passages. That is why I must set my hope fully – set my mind on things above – in order to be prepared for action.
So, how do we do this? My suggestions are simple:
- Pray – This is the first step in setting our mind and hope. God wants us to talk to Him and trust Him for our daily needs. This gets our hearts and minds off of our problems and points them toward a solution.
- Read the Word – If you find yourself struggling to hear the voice of God in the midst of your thoughts, you do not have to look for an ethereal voice to speak out. We have God’s words written and compiled in book form. If you want to hear God’s voice, read His Word.
- Meditate on the Word – To meditate on God’s Word is to think and ponder on what His Word says. Here is a list of verses that can be handy to settle your mind: 1 Peter 1:13, Colossians 3:1-4, Romans 12:1-2, Psalm 121:1-2, Isaiah 43:1-3, and Matthew 11:28-30 (and many, many more).
- Talk about the Lord – Share with others about the hope you have in Christ. You are likely surrounded with people who are feeling hopeless and isolated. God has planted you where you are for a reason.
I am praying for you regarding this, and I hope that you will pray for me as well. There is no better place to set our hope and our focus than on Jesus. This makes me think of Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Sojourners, I can promise you that there is only one thing out there that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise; His name is Jesus. And, oh, what a change of mind occurs when we focus on Him – and a change of life, as well.
As always, I hope that you are loved and prayed for. Reach out if you need me. But, most importantly, you are loved by the King and any hand out to Him for help will not be brushed off.
[i] For additional resources related to “preparing your mind for action” in the context of 1 Peter 1:13, you can check out the message from Christ Community Church on Sunday, July 19, 2020.