1 Peter 1.13
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, and be sober-minded … set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
We are continuing with our study of “thinking,” and in particular faith-driven mental toughness. The first element of faith-driven mental toughness is to know and trust God. The second element is what you choose to focus on. That is, what you give your attention to.
When you are mentally tough, you don't focus on trying to control the situation, you focus on trusting God and controlling yourself. When confronted by a difficult or challenging situation, mentally tough people don't dwell on how they feel, they focus on what needs to be done. But when mentally weak people are confronted by difficulties and challenges, they focus on self and circumstances, they fixate on the negative, and they avoid or even complain about doing what needs to be done.
These two different mindsets produce two very different ways of responding to the challenges of life. The mindset of "what needs to be done" produces clarity and courage, and it responds with wisdom and discipline. The mindset of “how do I feel” fixates on the negative, and it produces anxiety and stress.
Note what the 1 Peter passage at the top says. “Prepare your mind for action and be sober-minded” is an admonition to be mentally disciplined.
“Prepare your mind” means to get yourself into the right mindset … to get your mind right. Responding to the stuff of life requires mental preparation. Your response to situations is internal and mental first, and external and behavioral second. What is happening inside of you is far more important than what is happening outside of you.
“Be sober-minded” means to think clearly. When your mind is impaired by an intoxicating substance it does not see or think clearly, and it puts you at risk. The enemy seeks to distort your thinking by distracting you with things that you should not give your attention to. To avoid the traps and attacks of the enemy, you need a clear mind. He is trying to lure you with deceptions & attractive lies. He is trying to impair your thinking.
We give the enemy access to our life through fear. We give God access to our life through faith. If we dwell on self and circumstances, we feed our fear. If we focus on what God wants us to do, we feed our faith.
“The Lord is my fortress, of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army surrounds me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, I will remain confident.” (Psalm 27).
Keep this in mind: Just because something gets your attention doesn’t mean it deserves your attention. Don’t focus on things that don’t deserve your attention. Don’t feed your fear. Don’t give the enemy access to your life.
You always have a choice regarding what you focus on and what you give your attention to.
- You can focus on the passions and lusts of the old nature, or you can focus on the things of the Spirit.
- You can focus on the things of the fallen world, or you can focus on the things of the kingdom of God.
- You can focus on complaining, or you can focus on solving.
- You can focus on the negative, or you can focus on the positive.
- You can focus on self and circumstances, or you can focus on God and his truth.
The bottom line: Pay attention to what you pay attention to. Where the mind goes, the man goes. The quality of your inner response (where you focus your heart & mind) determines the quality of your outer response (what you do and how well you do it).
If you see a situation through the lens of fear, anger, frustration, & complaining -- then you will react to the situation directed by the emotions of fear, anger, frustration, & complaining. But if your mind and heart is in a condition of inner peace -- focused, calm, & confident -- then you will see the same situation through an entirely different lens, and your response will be much more effective.
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." (Romans 8:5-6)