The Family Likeness
1 Peter 1:13-16
Why gird up the loins of your mind, be sober…

I. THE PATTERN OF HOLINESS. Religion is imitation. The truest form of worship is to copy. All through heathenism you find that principle working. "They that make them are like unto them." Why are heathen nations so sunken in their foul nesses? Because their gods are their examples, and they, first of all, make the gods after the pattern of their own evil imaginations, and then the evil imaginations, deified, react upon the makers and make them tenfold more children of hell than themselves. Worship is imitation. For religion is but love and reverence in the superlative degree, and the natural operation of love is to copy, and the natural operation of reverence is the same. So that the old Mosaic law, "Be ye holy as I am holy," went to the very heart of religion. And the New Testament form of it, as Paul puts it in a very bold word, "Be ye imitators of God, as beloved children," sets its seal on the same thought. But then, says somebody or other, "it is not possible." Well, if it were not possible, try it all the same. For in this world it is aim and not attainment that makes the noble life; and it is better to shoot at the stars, even though your arrow never reaches them, than to fire it along the low levels of ordinary life. I do not see that however the unattainableness of the model may be demonstrated, that has anything to do with the duty of imitation. Instead of bewildering ourselves with questions about "unattainable" or "attainable," suppose we asked, at each failure, "Why did I not copy God then; was it because I could not, or because I would not?"

II. THE FIELD OF THIS GODLIKE HOLINESS. Here is no cloistered and ascetic holiness which taboos large provinces of every man's experience, and says "we must not go in there, for fear of losing our purity," but rather wherever Christ has trod before we can go. That is a safe guide, and what ever God has appointed there we can go and that we can do. "In all manner of conversation." There is nothing so minute but it is big enough to mirror the holiness of God. The tiniest grain of mica, upon the face of the hill, is large enough to flash back a beam; and the smallest thing we can do is big enough to hold the bright light of holiness.

III. THE MOTIVE OR INSPIRATION OF HOLINESS. Peter would stir his hearers to the emulation of the Divine holiness by that thought of the bond that unites Him and them. "He hath called you." In which word, I suppose, he includes the whole sum of the Divine operations which have resulted in the placing of each of his auditors within the circle of the Christian community as the subjects of Christ's grace, and not only the one definite act to which the theologians attach the name of "calling." In the briefest possible way we may put the motive thus — the inspiration of imitation is to be found in the contemplation of the gifts of God. And not only so, but in this thought of the Divine calling there lies a fountain of inspiration when we remember the purpose of the calling. As Paul puts it in one of his letters: "God has not called us to uncleanness but to holiness." And so, if in addition to the fact of His "gift and calling" and all that is included within it, if in addition to the purpose of that calling we further think of the relation between us and Him which results from it, so as that we, as the next verse says, call Him who hath called us, "Our Father," then the motive becomes deeper and more blessed still. Shall we not try to be like the Father of our spirits, and seek for His grace, to bear the likeness of sons?

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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;

WEB: Therefore, prepare your minds for action, be sober and set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ—

The Duty and Discipline of Christian Hope
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