“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. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16)
The most common use of “being sober-minded” in verse 13 is regarding alcohol and intoxication. 1 Timothy 3 applies it to the qualification for an elder and it is also the mark of a spiritually mature woman. They don’t use alcohol in any controlling way. However, most theologians interpret this more broadly as a whole approach to life.
“For Peter the cares of this life and the pressure of persecution can “intoxicate” the Christian and distract his or her focus just as easily as wine might… The need of the hour is clear judgment and a mind and will prepared to resist anything that would distract them from a hope set on Jesus’ appearing.” (Peter Davids, The First Epistle of Peter: NICNT, p. 67)
Sober thinking is thinking with clarity and focus; the refusal to allow anything to distract. This isn’t sober in demeanor or personality. It is a focused mind that sees life through a grid of gospel priority. It prioritizes God, the gospel, the church, the mission, and doing these things in light of eternity. Its highest and best thoughts are reserved for kingdom and spiritual matters.
Think about what you think about when you don’t have to think about anything. How often do those thoughts turn toward spiritual realities? Do you think about God or ministry or Scripture or eternity? Do you intentionally direct your mind to think about what you want it to think about? You might say, my mind has a mind of its own. No it doesn’t. We can direct our thoughts intentionally toward anything, but this takes discipline and habit.
I have been thinking about my mind some. It seems to me that I don’t think as much as I used to. I find my mentally free moments increasingly filled by reading my email or social media or passively viewing things. Over time, this feels more and more normal. When it comes time to summon my brain to high and holy thinking, it struggles because it’s too distracted. Distracted by what?
I want to spend a little time right here because I think this is such a problem these days. It’s obviously a problem in the culture around us. It seems normal to see a family of five at the restaurant not talking to each other, not looking at each other, everyone engrossed in their smartphones. I remember coming up to greet a family before church and they all were focused on their phones—probably not reading the Westminster Catechism.
We are awash in trivial thinking about trivial things. Just look at what people post on Facebook as an indication of what they are thinking about. It’s not always this way, but isn’t there a lot of silly nonsense posted? If Facebook is an indication of where our minds are at, are we not a long way from Peter’s admonition to think seriously and soberly about truth?
This is not a rant against media or movies or Twitter. I think Peter would have had a Twitter account. I just don’t think he would tweet about dresses worn at the Grammys or Katy Perry’s Super Bowl performance. In fact, what might Peter have shared? Don’t we have it in front of us? What Peter writes about is what Peter was thinking about.
Think about your thinking. You can control your mind by what you put into your mind and what you allow yourself to think about. Satan doesn’t need to convince you of some heresy if only he can distract you from the truth.
You may say, why does this matter? What’s at stake here is hope. Hope in the midst of life. Hope in the midst of troubles and trials. Hope and faith that gets us through the ups and downs of life. Where does it come from? From clear and serious thinking about my life and my relationships and my trials and my everything through the grid of God’s Word and gospel. The more habitually I meditate about these things, the more hope and endurance and joy and peace I will have in the trials of life.
How? What gender is our baby?
Get rid of distractions
Increase truth input – “Whatever things are pure, lovely, commendable, think on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)
Recall the grace of God
Love God with your mind
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2015 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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