My very first attempt at simple exegeis and personal application:
1 Peter 1:13 "So think clearly and exercise self control. Look forward to the special blessings that will come to you at the return of Jesus Christ."
1 Peter was written sometime around the time of 62-64 A.D. probably in Rome. 1st century Christians were being persecuted for believing in and obeying Jesus. It was during the time of the great persecution under the Roman Emperor Nero (Peter was eventually killed during the great persecution). Christians suffered in numerous ways including but not limited to physical abuse, debilitating diseases, social ostracism, persecution and even death. Sufferings, then and today, tempt people to give up and take the easy way out. Peter had encountered a tremendous amount of persecution and suffering himself and the purpose of this letter was to encourage and give hope to other Christians in hopes that they would not give up but stay strong and hold true to Jesus Christ. He wrote the letter to Jewish Christians who were driven out of Jerusalem and scattered across Asia Minor and to Christians everywhere.
Peter is concluding a theme on salvation in verse 13 and he uses words that create powerful imagery in order to appeal to his readers. The verbs think, exercise and look give strong suggestions on how we should act or what we should do in order to be closer to Jesus Christ. He advises that we should think clearly (be mentally alert, judge, regard, use or exercise our minds in order to make decisions) and exercise (discipline, exert, systematically train by multiple repetitions, “practice makes perfect”) self control (which means to control our impulses, self discipline, practice will power and restraint). Then we should look forward (perceive with attention, direct our gaze or expect) to the special blessings that will be bestowed upon us when Christ returns. These words in association with the theme of salvation through Christ are used to suggest a call to holy living.
Literally, Peter is finishing explaining the glories of what is to come. He gives Christians a few requirements of holy living and he paints a picture of what is waiting for us in the days ahead and what blessings salvation will bring. He points out that although there will be suffering and persecution we should be assured that grace is upon us. When we practice self control and put our focus clearly on Christ we will be rewarded. “Our lives are to be controlled by our focus on the ever present reality of Christ’s return and the glory that comes with that” (Dwight Edwards).
It is so easy to get caught up in our everyday lives and lose our focus on Christ. When we are tired, weak or feeling hopeless it is easy to become frustrated with God and look for worldly ways to ease our sorrows. It is easy to rely on ourselves or on worldly things instead of Him in these situations. Peter calls us to live holier and rise above this. He encourages us to not only live in the here and now but also in the future; to look forward to the rest, grace and blessings that Christ has waiting for us. Nowhere in the bible does it say that living a Christian life is easy … in fact it is clearly points out that we will face trials and sufferings in our Christian walk. Peter is trying to encourage us to trudge through those sufferings and he gives us guidelines on how to do so. He says that we should think clearly and exercise our self control. That means we should judge our thoughts, use regard and practice restraining ourselves from sin. He goes further to say that as we do those things we should look forward and expect what special blessings that Christ has waiting for us. So, keep your minds on Christ and mediate on things to come instead of worrying about today. Romans 8:6 similarly focuses on this theme, “For to be fleshly minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
When I am tired and my faith is being tested I will change my focus from death to the blessings and life that Christ offers me. I will meditate on His words, promises and give thanks for the blessings He has bestowed on me. By doing this and changing my thought process I will be exercising my self control. When I practice self control I allow myself to be closer with Christ and live in accordance with His will for my life and reward is sure to follow.
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