Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Scripture Picture

Gird up your loins!

Maybe you’ve heard the expression and wondered about it. The Bible repeatedly refers to girding up one’s loins. After the mental snickering is over, what are we to make of this?

Peter used the expression: “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.” (1 Peter 1:13, KJV)

The same idea is found elsewhere in the Bible. It is found on the lips of a prophet (2 Kings 4:29; 9:1) and from God’s own mouth as well (Job 38:3; 40:7; Jer. 1:17).

Just what is meant by “gird up the loins”? And how, then, does one do so with one’s “mind”?

The first question first. In a helpful post (which you can find here) the Art of Manliness website offers us this visual instruction manual …

Here’s another helpful, but less visual, explanation.

Now consider the second question–how are we to do with with our “minds”?

The King James Version is quite literal in its rendering of the original Greek. More recent English Translations have sought to communicate the essence without a literal translation:

  • “gird your minds for action” (NASB)
  • “prepare your minds for action” (NASB Updated)
  • “get your minds ready for action” (NET)
  • “think clearly and exercise self-control” (NLT)
  • “gird up your minds” (RSV)
  • “prepare your minds for action” (NRSV)
  • “preparing your minds for action” (ESV)

Effective, perhaps, but, it seems to lose something of the vividness of the literal rendering!

The call to “gird up the loins” is a call to dress oneself for action—be it heavy labor or the life-and-death struggle of battle. To do so with one’s “mind” is the reminder that as followers of Jesus Christ we are in a battle and that this battle finds its greatest struggles first and foremost in our thinking. God’s call to all His own is to “be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (Eph. 4:23). This is vital because “to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). We must “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

So let’s get busy with the heavy labor of daily, continually submitting our thoughts to the renewing of our minds by the written Word of God in reliance upon the Holy Spirit. And thus in the moment of battle—which arrives repeatedly every day, many times over—may we be ready for whatever the will of God requires of us.

Confessions of an Ignoramus

There is so much we just don’t know. What are we to do about that?

Here’s some thoughts on Moses’ famous counsel: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)

You can find it here.

A Preacher’s Prayer

Father,

guard my mouth, set watch over the door of my lips

guard my mind, set watch over the door of my thoughts

guard my heart, set watch over the door of my loves

Father, please

fill my mouth with your words

fill my mind with your thoughts and

fill my heart with your love

Then, Father, use me as you please

In Jesus’ Name, amen

The Agony of Prayer

As we march toward the remembrance of Jesus on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, consider again the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane.

See Him there, prayerfully wrestling with the suffering that lay before Him and the eternal realities that depended upon Him. Having called His Disciples to watch and pray, He stumbled forward, “fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will’” (Matt. 26:39). He rises. He finds the Disciples sleeping. He calls them again to watchful vigilance. Again He withdrew, crying out, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done” (v.42). Once again, He rises. Again, He finds the Disciples sleeping. Yet again, He withdrew and “prayed for the third time, saying the same words again” (v.44).

Clearly Jesus was wrestling with what the will of His Father required of Him. It made Him “very sorrowful.” So deep was His grief that He thought it might be the death of Him just trying to pray through it all (v.38). Jesus clearly wished for the Disciples to join Him in His struggle that would soon become their struggle. He wanted them to be prepared.

Almost immediately Judas and the arresting mob arrived in the Garden (vv.46-47). The betrayal by kiss (vv.47-50a). The brief, bloody skirmish (vv.50b-51). The rebuke by Jesus of His Disciples (v.52).

Consider then Jesus’ response both to the Disciples for their impetuous fighting and to the arresting mob in their blind arresting. Jesus reminded the Disciples that He could have called on His Father for a host of angel-warriors and been delivered from this entire affair (v.53). His next breath is telling: “But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (v.54).

No long later Jesus similarly rebuked the arresting authorities with a question about the timing and circumstances of their actions (v.55). Then He said, “But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled” (v.56).

Jesus’ response to both the Disciples and the arresting party was the same – there was no other way for Him (and them) to fulfill what the Scriptures revealed as the Father’s will. As Jesus struggled with the Father’s will, it was against what He knew the Father had described as His will in the Scriptures.

Picture it! Jesus, if you will, was struggling in prayer over an open Bible as it held before Him the difficult nature of His Father’s will.

It makes me wonder, will I so pray through what the Scriptures require of me as a disciple of Jesus Christ? Will I come to the same place of submission to the Father’s will?

When God’s Word is open before me, holding forth what God requires of me, am I bowed to its authority over me? Am I bowed over that open Bible, praying through what it holds before me, where necessary, weeping and wrestling with my own will and self-preservation? Do I come to the same conclusion as Jesus? Do I say, as Jesus did, “Rise, let us be going” and take the next step of obedience my Father, through his written Word, holds before me?

As difficult as that next step in your discipleship with Jesus may be, He understands—from experience—just what you are going through (Heb. 2:18; 4:15). He too uttered “loud cries and tears” in this struggle (Heb. 5:7). But “for the joy that was set before him” He took the next painful step of obedience (Heb. 12:2). And because He did, so can you, by His Spirit dwelling within you.

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