Call me old school, but I like using the King Jimmy (King James Version) for my Bible study. That's not to say that I'm exclusive by any means. I also like to refer to the ESV and 'The Message' just to get a more current day take on things.
But even though much of the language and format in the KJV is rather archaic at times, I find that it challenges me to dig deeper. And there are times when the word choices are really packed with meaning.
Such is the case with this verse in 1 Peter 1:13:
"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."
There are two words Peter uses here in the beginning portion of this verse that we aren't too familiar with today - the term 'gird' and the word 'loins.' To better understand the meaning of this verse, we need to read it through the eyes of a 1st Century Jew. In those days, the basic garment for the Jews was the tunic. It was a fairly similar portion of clothing for both men and women, except that the man’s tunic was often shorter (about knee length) and typically more colorful, whereas the women’s was often longer (ankle length) and blue. The tunic was normally a long flowing and full cut robe.
Underneath the tunic they would wear either a loincloth (girdle), or a small waist covering.The girdle was often made of leather or cloth and was used to hold the tunic to the waist. Many times it was also used to hold money, tools or weapons. When men needed more ability to work, run, or fight, they would tuck the hem of the tunic into the girdle to gain greater freedom and movement. This action was called “girding up the loins” and the phrase became a metaphor for 'getting ready or being prepared."
When a man was getting ready to work, or preparing for battle, he put a loincloth around his waist; then he tucked up his robe so his legs would not be hindered.
Therefore, in this context, the meaning of "to gird up the loins of your mind" means to prepare your minds for work, service, or battle. We are to be disciplined and diligent as we live out our lives in light of His grace and the Hope that is yet to come. We need to do whatever it takes to focus our thoughts on those things that allow us to obey and serve God with complete, unhindered devotion.
What I personally like about this verse is that God commands us to use our minds - the capacity to think and reason that He created within us. Our faith isn't simply a total leap of blindless faith. Biblical Truth engages our minds and challenges our thinking. It serves to validate and reinforce those things that we do accept by faith alone.
Here is the paraphrase found in The Message:
"So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that's coming when Jesus arrives."
And the ESV (English Standard Version):
"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."