As you go through the daily activities of life, do you have your eyes (your heart, your focus, your perspective) fixed on the things of God or on the quickly fading things of this earth? What are you living for, to eat, drink, and be merry because you never know how much longer you have or are you living with eternity as your perspective setter? What do you spend the majority of your time focusing on, the things that are here today and gone tomorrow or the things that will last all throughout eternity. The things of this world are fading away so if you are focused on them, you and your perspective on eternity will fade away along with them.
Unfortunately, too many people focus their eyes on the things of this world and that is what they live for, get up in the morning for, and put forth all of their time, effort, and energy. Things such as wealth, fame, position, power, influence etc.. are all things that will fade away. Also, attaining these things will not satisfy you. If you think that they will, just look at the rich and famous over the past 100 years and see how many of them were truly satisfied with getting the name and fame.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a different perspective. We know that our lives are like a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow, especially when compared to eternity. As the great Roman general turned gladiator said, “what we do in life, echos in eternity”. This is true. The things that we fix our eyes on now have a direct impact on our eternity. As believers, we want to fix our eyes on the Lord and the great Apostle Peter wants to teach us how to do this. They question is, what do I do, how do I live day to day if I have a desire to fix my hope and focus on the Lord. We need look no further than Peter’s first epistle to find the answer.
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior ; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, (I Peter 1)
I. Fix your hope on the promises of God (13)
The word hope, as used in the Bible, means that you are fully convinced that the thing will happen and you just have to pass the time until it comes about. That is a very different understanding than what we usually have for the word hope. We say things like I hope it will not rain on our picnic tomorrow not really knowing if it will or will not. Biblical hope is not like this. Biblical hope is a mindset. You know that the promises of God are as good as done once they are said. God has staked His existence upon His Word. If He ever contradicts His Word or says one thing and does another then He ceases to be God. Since He cannot cease to be God then His Word is as good as done, as soon as He says it. This is why we need to study the Bible, so that we can know the promises of God and set our hope in them. It all begins with the mind. When the mind is right, everything else follows, including the emotions. The first step that you need to take in order to fix your hope on the Lord is to open His Book and find out what His promises are. When you learn God’s promises then you begin to put things in perspective. You begin to view things in light of eternity. You do not get bogged down in the activities of every day life. You become sober in spirit (awake to the spiritual and eternal perspective of life).
Where do you find yourself, just droning through life day to day or are you living in the light of eternity? Do you seek to know the promises of God so that you can hope in them (trust that they will come true at the right time)?
II. Be obedient to the Lord (14-16)
As you begin to live life with a new perspective, you will have a desire to obey the Lord (live according to what you learn in His Word). This process is known as “sanctification” or the process of being holy the way that God is holy. The word “holy” means to be set apart, different from everyone else, dedicated by God to the things of God”. How is this difference manifested? This text tells us. People who are not followers of Jesus Christ are ignorant to the ways of God. They may have come up with their own ways of god (a god of their own invention) but they do not know the ways of the One, True God, the God of the Bible. Since they are ignorant of the ways of God, they live contrary to God’s desires and this is seen through their “lusts” or sin nature. St. Peter does not go into detail about that sin nature in this text but his colleague, St. Paul does, in one of his epistles. I would like to take a quick look at the lusts of the flesh and then examine ourselves to make sure we are not living controlled by them.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5)
I placed the beginning and end of the list in bold. I like how Paul ends the list. He basically says “and the list goes on and on . . .”. The list starts with sexual immorality, one of the most prevalent sins among those who do not know God. Sexual immorality is any form of sexual activity both physical and mental that takes place outside of the confines of marriage. Reading x-rated romance novel and looking at porn both fall under this sin heading. You can learn a lot about a person’s relationship with God based on his view of human sexuality. Jealousy is another lust of the flesh and it opens the door to many of the other manifestations we see in the list, like disputes and dissensions. Another sin of the flesh here is sorcery which is the translation of the Greek word Pharmakios (where we get our English word Pharmacy from) and it means more than casting spells and mixing potions. It means any mind altering drug that causes you to be addicted. Alcohol, weed, heroine, cocaine, etc. fall under this category. People who are ignorant of the ways of God are led by uncontrolled sexual urges and by a desire to use mind altering drugs. They have a hard time building lasting relationships with others because they cannot get along. They argue and fight because of things like jealousy. The root of all of this is their idolatry. An idol is something that takes the place of God in your life. Idols are very dangerous because they can be hard to find. The greatest idol that we all face is ourselves. We want to lead our lives the way that we want. We want to be the boss. We want control. We think that we know better than God does. When we build our lives on our own wisdom and understanding then we are ignorant to the ways of God and all of these others sins are just the manifestation of idolatry. Do you have idols in your life? Are you your own idol? Do you feel that you know better than God does about how to live your life and make the right choices? Are any of the sins of the flesh mentioned above present in your life as a way of life, not an occasional slip up here and there?
Once you dedicate yourself to the Lord and let Him rule in your life then you will start becoming more and more sensitive to His ways and more and more obedient to Him. When this happens, your perspective will change and you will begin to build relationships with others the way that God is building His with you.
III. Love one another sincerely (17,22)
A result of being committed to serving the Lord is that you will become sincere in your relationships with others. You stop trying to use people for your own personal gains and begin to invest in them with eternity in mind. This is the love that Jesus refers to when He says “love one another as I have loved you”. We begin to view people the way that God does. We begin to want to demonstrate love to them the way that God did, by taking initiative to serve. It is a radical way of thinking and living. You advance through self-sacrifice. The world says take care of yourself because no one else will yet God says love and serve one another and I will take care of you.
What about you my friend, are you living with your hope fixed on God or on temporal things? One is here today and gone tomorrow and the other will last all throughout eternity. Does your lifestyle show that you know God and His promises or does it show that you live in ignorance of God’s ways? Do you seek to benefit from others or do you view them as creations of God who are worthy of being invested in with your time, efforts, and energy? What gets you out of bed every morning? Is it to make money to buy more stuff or is it to carry out the Great Commission of making disciples by investing in the people around you? Your honest answer to these questions will help you see reality as it is. I pray that you are motivated to live with eternity ever in view. May God bless you as you seek to serve Him day in and day out.