Lessons from 1 Peter: Self Care

How can we care for ourselves physically? emotionally? spiritually?

Therefore, get your minds ready for action by being fully sober, and set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Like obedient children, do not comply with the evil urges you used to follow in your ignorance,  but, like the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in all of your conduct,  for it is written, “You shall be holy, because I am holy.”  And if you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each one’s work, live out the time of your temporary residence here in reverence. – 1 Peter 1:13-17

  • Be mentally prepared.  The phrase that is translated here “get your minds ready for action,”  in the original text really was a phrase that meant “gird up the loins of your mind.”  The robes of those in biblical times were long, and could be tied up at the waist,  enabling the wearers to move in a more quick and agile way.   So what does it mean to gird up the loins of our minds? To quote the Believer’s Bible Commentary, “in times of persecution, there is always the tendency to become rattled and confused.  A girded mind is one that is strong, composed, cool, and ready for action.  It is unimpeded by the distraction of human fear or persecution.” (2254) 
  • Realize that your time here is temporary. This world isn’t our home.  If we focus on the grace that will be brought when Jesus is revealed, the future hope we have, if we hold onto the fact that our trials and troubles are merely temporary, while our rewards are eternal, we can feel less “stuck” in our circumstances, and more joyful due to the future we know that God has planned for us.  
  • Become holy in your conduct.  We will face trouble, but we can limit the trouble that we face of our own making.  The less turmoil we have of our own making, the more mentally prepared we can be for life and service.
  • Live in reverence to God.  If we give God the respect He deserves, keeping Him first and central in our lives, counting our blessings, it’s harder to get bogged down by everyday details and trials. 

If we do prepare ourselves mentally, focusing on our future rewards rather than our present struggles, and if we do live reverently, attempting to become more holy, more like God in everything we say and do, we will be able to have greater impact on those we are serving while in this world.

 And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation, if you have experienced the Lord’s kindness. – 1 Peter 2:2-3

  •  We should yearn to grow in our faith, through reading the word, our spiritual milk.  Newborns eat every couple of hours… they seem to be perpetually hungry. Eating, sleeping, then eating some more. We should have that almost insatiable desire to know more about God, to feast continually on the truth which is found in the word, to spend time with Him in prayer, and have an awareness of His presence throughout our days.  Through the word we learn about God and are equipped to live the Christian life and serve others.

Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, and maintain good conduct  among the non-Christians, so that thought they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears. – 1 Peter 2:11-12

  •  Stay away from temptations that make our lives harder.   In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask “lead us not into temptation”.  Not only should we not walk straight into temptation, but we should also choose not to try to skirt the edges of what we think we can get away with.  We should  stay far, far away from the  ungodly desires of this world. From greed, to power, position, selfishness, and fame, we are to stay away from the things that pull us away from God and into sin.   Our souls are stronger when they are rooted in and focused on God, rather than divided between fleshy desires and Godly pursuits.

Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether to a king as supreme  or to governors as those he commissions to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do good. For God wants you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. Live as free people, not using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but as God’s slaves. Honor all people, love the family of believers,  fear God, honor the king. - 1 Peter 2:13-17

  • Be subject to every human institution.  Unless the local, state, federal, national, and international law and leaders are contradicting God’s law, we should be following  their lead, living lawfully, and respecting our government. “Look at that Christian breaking the law”, also isn’t really great testimony.
  • Live as free people… as God’s slaves. This seems to be a contradiction, but really, it is not.  We are to live as free people, free from the bondage of sin and death.  We are to accept God’s gift of Christ, His sacrifice for our sin.  We voluntarily give our lives over to follow God out of gratefulness for His sacrifice, and place ourselves into the service of God, grateful for our creation and salvation.   
  • Use our freedom responsibly.  - We know that Christ has died for our sins, once for all.  However, that is not an excuse to continue to sin or do evil.  If we truly view Christ as Lord, not just as friend or nice guy who saved us, we will follow his directions as He is King and central and in control of  our lives.  We should try to live in a way that pleases Him.  
  • Honor everyone, love those who fear God, fear God yourself, honor your earthly leaders.  We should respect and act respectfully towards everyone.  Disagreement, even godly or righteous disagreement, is no excuse for slander or sin against others.

For the one who wants to love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from uttering deceit. And he must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. – 1 Peter 3:10-11

  • Control our tongues. We are not to use our tongues for evil: to slander, lie,  or to deceive.
  • Turn from evil and do good.  Not only with our words, but with our actions, we are to do good.  Doing evil or harmful things to others brings shame and guilt into our lives.  Doing good things for others is pleasing to our Father in heaven, and helps us to have positive relationships, and leaves us free of shame and guilt.
  • Pursue Peace.  We are called not only to live peacefully, choosing not to cause unneeded conflict (see Rom 12:8), we are to be peacemakers (see Matt 5:9), doing our best to restore relationships and resolve conflict.

 But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken. But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you. – 1 Peter 3:14-16

  •  Treat God as our King, fear God more than we fear man.  To quote the Believer’s Bible commentary, “All we do and say should be in His will, for His pleasure, and for His glory.  The lordship of Christ should dominate every area of our lives – our posessions, our occupation, our library, our marriage, our spare time- nothing should be excluded.” (2271) We may be tempted to give in to our fear of man – like Peter when he denied the Lord three times. (see Mark 14:66-72)   Instead, we should trust that God will deliver us.

So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires.- 1 Peter 4:1-2

  • Be willing to suffer in order to do the will of God, rather than giving in to the temptation of sin.   We should be more concerned about God’s opinion of us, then the negative reactions of others  if we choose not to sin. Many Christian practices and viewpoints are unpopular – and we may face ridicule or exclusion for living out what we believe.   It is better for us to face ridicule from man, rather than the natural consequences of our sin – shame, guilt, and broken relationships, not only with man, but God.

For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer. -  1 Peter 4:7

  •  Make the most of prayer time. Be sober minded, alert and ready, self controlled and focused, so that you make the most of the time you spend with God in prayer. How easy it is to fall prey to letting our minds wander, or even drifting off to sleep, forgetting to mention prayer requests or failing to ask specifically for our needs.  Peter knew the importance of being alert firsthand, and had failed at it.  (see Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42)

Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 4:11

  •  Rely on God, rather than on ourselves.  Do we give advice out of God’s wisdom, or the worlds, or as if we were the experts?  Do we serve with the strength God gives us – and are we refilling ourselves with his truth to gain mental strength and wisdom?  Are we taking the time to enjoy God’s gift of rest in order to regain our physical strength?  

 And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you.  Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. – 1 Peter 5:6-9

  •  Cast your cares upon God, be willing to admit that you  need His help.   His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.  (see Matthew 11:28-30)  How much weight do we try to carry on our own? We should not be anxious, but we should pray for the help that we need. (Philippians 4:6)

How should these truths change your life? (James 1:22)