The weather is nice at the moment and I could even dare to say it feels like summer in England – finally. With that and some of the restrictions imposed by the government during the Coronavirus pandemic starting to easy off, many are meeting together to have celebrations. It has been a difficult year for most. Weddings are going ahead with more guests, football matches are happening again, theatres and cinemas are reopening and pubs are once again very noisy places.
We live in a place where there are plenty of pubs around and we see many young people heading out to the pubs on the weekends. We also hear them late at night, and sometimes, very early in the morning coming home having had one too many drinks. Have you ever seen a drunken person trying to speak cohesively? Walk properly? Make sense of their surroundings or situations?
I have never been drunk, but I grew up watching my uncle destroy his life and his family because of alcohol. He was addicted to it. When he was drunk, he lost control over his mind, senses and he was even violent. He couldn’t hold a job and eventually his marriage broke down and he wasn’t allowed to see his children. He was in and out of hospitals and eventually he died of cirrhosis of the liver. He had a sad life and made everyone who knew him very sad as we watched the consequences of his choices unfold in front of us. A drunken person is never alert, never in control of their senses, never ready to speak or think and they are vulnerable to attacks too.
Maybe it is no coincidence that Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1: 13, “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” (NIV) (emphasis mine). I don’t think that Peter’s audience was made up of drunken people. Maybe they had been before they became Christians and could relate. Perhaps they had seen many drunken people around and would be able to understand the choice of words here.
Why should I worry about this as I already mentioned I have never been drunk and I am not about to. As far as I am aware, I am alert most of the time. Why did Peter choose these words? What do they mean?
Lets have a look at the same verse in the King James Version: 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;
The first thing worth mentioning is that in Peter’s time the people used to wear very loose and flowing garments, some still wear them to this day. Therefore they had to gird their garment in order to be ready for any kind of exercise. They had to be prepared in case they had to run. Peter’s audience would have understood what he meant. The ESV translation puts it this way: preparing your minds for action. Perhaps we need to search our hearts and see if we are “securing” the things we believe tightly around us. Are we holding on to the truth that has set us free? Are we preparing our minds with the Gospel truths we have been told? Spurgeon once said: bind the blessed truth of the gospel more closely to your soul than ever. We must be careful that our hearts are not divided and that our minds are fixed on Jesus and on Him alone.
The next thing we need to consider is “be sober”. How are we getting drunk as we live in this world? This is directly linked to the “girding up the loins of our minds”. When we are not prepared, focused on Jesus, holding on to the truth of the Gospel it is very easy to act like a drunk person. We are at risk of loosing all our senses or morality or right and wrong especially in a society where everything goes, as long as you are happy. We are at risk of distorting God’s truth in the name of diversity and tolerance. We are at risk of being attacked by the enemy and taken captive by all sorts of false teaching. We loose sight of Jesus. As a drunk person cannot distinguish between right and wrong in their numbed mind, we become spiritually dazed, numbed, ineffective, fruitless. “Be sober”. Be spiritually sober.
Why? “Because we are to set our hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” Peter celebrate God’s grace in verses 1 to 12. Christianity is based on God’s action to save his people, that is grace and we must hope fully on it. May our gracious God help us as we seek to follow him and be more like Him.