I grew up in the country in rural Kentucky where giving someone directions usually involved turning right just past the bridge, left after the third dead skunk, and if you see the red barn you went too far. Thankfully, the directions God gives us in His word for living life well are far more explicit. He tells us repeatedly that if we want our lives to move in the right direction, we need to start thinking straight.
Peter said to “prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.” (1 Peter 1:13 NLT) How do you prepare your mind for action?
Peter actually speaks in military terminology here. He says we ought to guard our minds the way a soldier cinches his belt tightly on the way into battle. This gave him a feeling of security and strength. Peter says we are to cinch up our minds for security’s sake. This means establishing healthy boundaries in our thought life – thinking purely and positively and shunning thoughts that are harmful or impure.
Thinking purely is half the battle, and thinking positively is the other half. Peter says we are “hope to the end.” There are two extremes to avoid when it comes to thinking positively. Obviously we need to avoid fatalism – the belief that all is hopeless, there is no God, there is no heaven, and everything is going to turn out badly. On the other hand, we need to avoid idealism – the ability that everything is fine just as it is, sin isn’t a reality, and everybody is basically good.
When the gospel guides our thinking, we are very realistic about sin, its effects, and its potential destructiveness. But we also are extremely positive because our hope is rooted in the redemption of the cross, the victory of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and the certain promise that God will make all things right and keep His word about our eternal home in heaven.
To sum it up… Think. Straight. Forward.