1 Peter 1:13-16
Why gird up the loins of your mind, be sober…
I. THE POWER OF HOPE IN HUMAN CHARACTER. What makes the difference between human beings and beasts? Very largely, the presence of hope as a factor in character. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests." So much the worse for them. Man is distinguished from the animals by the fact that you cannot so easily satisfy him. He may begin by living in the hole in the ground, or by lodging in the branches; but, by and by, that hole is not good enough. Something in man demands improvement. Hope is therefore one of the foremost elements in human character; distinguishing man as man, giving him a higher rank than all the rest of the animal creation. And as it is a necessary factor in character, so it is in human progress. Any conditions in human society which tend to repress hope are abnormal and unnatural, and hostile to man's well-being. Who is today at the bottom of society may, under the encouragement, of our republican institutions and freedom, rise until he occupies the highest position that the people can bestow. Hope presents a perpetual incentive to progress: — not an ignis fatuus, a will-o'-the-wisp, beguiling us into mire and marsh, but impelling us continually onward to things higher and better. The hopes of boyhood do not satisfy manhood, and the hopes even of manhood do not satisfy maturer years; and so that which once beckoned you forward, as you reach up and move up toward it, keeps still ahead of you, and becomes a perpetual inspiration, urging you ever onward and upward. If hope, therefore, could be quenched or crushed, we could make no more advancement. Because hope is so important an element in character, and so essential to human development and progress, the Word of God lays such heavy stress on this essential element of all true manhood. No other grace seems more vital to a true Christian life than hope. Then see how hope helps us to bear trials. It surrounds us with a kind of "elastic medium," so that when the terrible afflictions of this life beat against us, they rebound from us. There is a power in hope that prevents the severity of their blows from utterly crushing us.
II. What, now, are THE OBJECTS SET BEFORE THE CHRISTIAN HOPE? "The grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Few of us ever think of this. When we speak of the grace that is revealed we think of what is already manifested, of Golgotha with its Cross, of Gethsemane with its agony. Peter is speaking of something future, not grace already manifested. "The grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Jesus Christ's Incarnation was not a revelation. His divinity was rather hidden within the veil of His humanity: only now and then the glory of that divinity shone forth. When Jesus was here He was in disguise. God was only feebly and faintly manifested in the flesh, which obscured the glory. But when Christ conies a second time, no longer to make a sin offering, but to bring full salvation unto His people, then will be the revelation of Jesus Christ. He will come like the King in His glory. All the grace that comes to you from the hour of your regeneration to the hour of your complete sanctification is nothing in comparison with the grace that is to be revealed to you by Christ in the day when you are presented, faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.
III. In view of the glorious hopes that the Bible inspires." GIRDING UP THE LOINS OF YOUR MIND, BE SOBER, hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Let us mark these subordinate phrases: "Girding up the loins of your mind, be sober." That they may not be entangled in thorns and briars, or be defiled by the dust and the filth of the way. And so the apostle says, "Girding up the loins of your mind," your affections, so that they may not be defiled by earthly things. John Wesley used to say, "The child of God ought to be too proud to sin. When I think of myself as the disciple of Christ, born of the Spirit, I say, 'How can I sin against God?'" Set your affections on things above; gird up your loins, and keep your white garments "unspotted from the world." And then "be sober." Now, it would do a pilgrim very little good if he gathered up his garments and did not maintain sobriety. He might fall in the dust of the way, bruising himself as well as defiling his robe. And so we must not only gird ourselves, but keep sober and clear-minded for the journey.
IV. WHAT A CONTRAST BETWEEN THE OBJECTS OF CHRISTIAN HOPE AND WORLDLY HOPE! Contrast the reality of Christian hopes with the illusiveness of worldly hopes. And consider, once more, the permanence and reliability of the Christian objects of desire and expectation. We come to a limit in this world. The glory of your possessions and your achievements will all pale and grow dim when you face the last great destroyer. But, blessed be God, the point at which human hopes are utterly blasted is the point at which Christian expectations only arrive at their consummation. What should we care for the perishing treasures of this world? for the evanescent pleasures that charm for a moment, and then lose their power?
(A. T. Pierson, 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;