Today’s passages: Isaiah, chapters 36-37; Psalm 76; 1 Peter, chapter 1
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:13-16 (NRSV) – Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Observations: An old saint once told me that he learned in Bible College that whenever you see the word “therefore” in a passage of Scripture, “you need to look and see what it’s there for.” “Therefore” always relates back to what has just been said, and in 1 Peter chapter 1, what has just been said relates to our “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3) Because we have been born again, because we have a living hope because Jesus himself is alive forevermore, there are certain things that Peter wants to encourage us to do. So what are they?
First, “prepare your minds for action.” I find that to be an interesting phrase, because too many times we don’t involve our minds in preparation for action. When we think it’s time for action, we dive right in without thinking about it – as one person put it, “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Rather than just diving in, we ought to prepare our minds for action – think through, and pray through, what response God wants us to make. Now, the closer we walk with the Lord, this process of “preparing our minds for action” is an ongoing process, not something we go through every time we need to do something. For example, spending time with our “Divine Mentor” each day – reading Scripture, reflecting on it, and allowing God to speak to us – is an important part of the process of preparing our minds for action.
Second, “discipline yourselves.” When we consider that this follows the charge to prepare our minds for action, I think it makes sense to see the call to discipline ourselves as a call to prepare our bodies for action. That means, among other things, that we need to attend to the basic things that our bodies need in order to be at our best – eating right, getting enough rest, understanding that we cannot “burn the candle at both ends.” Because we are spiritual beings living in physical bodies, our bodies impact our spirits, and we cannot be at our best spiritually when we’re not taking care of our bodies physically. (Jesus called the disciples to “come apart and rest for awhile. The concept of Sabbath is based on the fact that we need both physical and spiritual rest in order to be at our best.) That doesn’t mean that we should obsess about our health; it simply means that we recognize that God created us with bodies, and he knows that we function best when our entire being is healthy and whole.
Third, “set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.” Too many times, we put our hope in other people, or other things – which will bring us to disappointment. Peter’s call to set all of our hope on grace is a reminder that our only real hope is in Jesus – the living hope that Peter talked about in verse 3. When we are tempted to trust in money or other material things, or in political leaders, or organizations, we need to remember that all of our hope is to be in God.
Finally, “as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct.” A holy God calls his people to be holy. The Bible makes it clear time and time again that it is a dangerous thing to be an unholy person in the presence of a holy God. But the call to be holy is also a promise that God is able and willing to make us holy. We can’t do it on our own, but God can and will make us holy to enable us to be holy in all our conduct. It’s time for us to recognize, or remember, that a holy God never shrugs off sin and says, “That’s no big deal.” He calls us to be holy, and we need to strive to live in the holiness he has made possible for us.
Applications: God is reminding me today that all of my hope is to be in him. At times, I find myself hoping that people will do certain things, or act in certain ways, in order to bring about what I think is the best course of action. God is reminding me that if my hope is in him, he will direct me to live and walk in the way that I need to, in order to see his plans come to pass. When I hold too tightly to my plans and expectations, I shift my hope toward the things and people that I think can make my plans “work.” When I stay grounded in God’s plans, he will never fail. Staying grounded in his plans doesn’t mean that I don’t have to do anything; I have to prepare my mind for action and discipline myself for the work he sets before me. I just don’t have to be responsible for the results, because my hope is not in my performance; my hope is in God.
Prayer: Father, I thank you today for the reminder that all my hope is in you. As I pray each day, remind me that your Kingdom will come, and your will will be done; help me to know what your will is for me. Thank you for guiding me each day as I come to you and seek your direction through your Word. Help me today to walk in your way, that your name may be glorified and people be drawn to you. Amen.