By Michael E. Brooks
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13 NKJV).
The lungi is a traditional item of clothing for Asian men. It is a simple piece of fabric wrapped around the waist to make what we in the west would consider a skirt. It is typically worn full length, waist to ankles, and is a popular lounging garment for the upper classes.
The poor however often wear the lungi to work and as their normal everyday clothing.
When a man wearing a lungi prepares to engage in heavy labor or athletic activity the loose length of the garment is a hindrance, interfering with his movement and provided potential hazards of tripping or entanglement with tools.
Therefore he will often wrap and tuck the extra length of fabric up around his waist and hips until he can move freely.
This is exactly the literal meaning of the Biblical expression “gird up your loins.” It describes one who tightens his robe or other dress and prepares for work. In the text quoted above, Peter uses it metaphorically to describe a spiritual and intellectual tightening.
He directs us to “gird up the loins of [our] mind.” In other words, to discipline our thinking and our attitudes.
Such girding up he says is necessary to the full realization of our hope in the grace of Jesus. Loose thinking hinders our trust in Christ, and our desire for eternal life with him.
Loose thinking distracts us from the task of serving God and from the necessity of purity in our lives. Our goals are confused. Our way becomes crooked. We are entangled in unnecessary material which may easily lead us to harm.
The sloppy, unnecessary thoughts which so hinder us include such things as worldly desires and pleasures (James 4:1-4), envy or jealousy (Galatians 5:20-21), malice (Ephesians 4:31), and hatred (Titus 3:3).
When our minds are filled with these things we cannot possibly “set our minds on things above” (Colossians 3:2) or “walk according to the Spirit . . . [minding] the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:1, 5).
In order to discipline our minds so that we can more effectively put our trust in Jesus, Peter exhorts us to “be sober.” Though the Bible often warns against drunkenness and requires sobriety in the physical sense, that is not the meaning here.
Rather Peter is still discussing the mind, so that he is urging us to think soberly. In this context “soberly” has the primary meaning of seriousness. We are to choose what we spend time thinking about, and direct our minds to things worthy of consideration.
Paul makes the same point in Philippians 4:8:
“. . . Whatsoever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”
Time is valuable, even time spent just thinking. More than that, our thoughts themselves are important.
They may cause us to be defiled (Mark 7:21). They define our nature (Proverbs 23:7). One may sin by just thinking evil (Matthew 5:22, 28). One may also praise and glorify God with pure and wholesome thought (Psalms 1:1-2).
In the western world we might admonish, “roll up your sleeves and get to work”. The principle is the same. Remove or restrain anything that gets in the way of service to God. Let us get serious about our Christian walk. Let us apply this principle not just to our bodies, but also to our minds.