“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.”
“Serious” comes from two words: to keep safe and mind. This is a term of mental health – to be in our right mind, then be reasonable, sensible, serious, keep our head to be temperate, discreet, show self-control to come to one’s senses, learn self-control. Peter says in effect, “Preserve your sanity. Keep things in their proper proportion.”
This person sees what is vital while under duress. “Guard your mind.” God expects us to stabilize our thought patterns. Why should the Christian get upset and fall apart when the trial comes?
Is 26:3, “You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.”
Peter wants us to keep our minds safe, to preserve our sanity. A great attribute of sanity is that it sees things in proper balance. It sees what is essential and what is not. It is not impulsive and erratic. It is not subject to fanaticism nor indifference. It considers the circumstances of time in the light of eternity. Circumstance finds its importance in the light of eternal values. When God gives us this perspective, all things take a proper place in our thinking.
“Serious” signifies alertness (1 Thess. 5:6, 8; 2 Tim. 4:5; 1 Pet. 1:13). Metaphorically, it does not in itself imply watchfulness but is used in association with it to think soberly. Christians are to be clear in their thinking about how to live the Christian life. God wants our minds to stay sound and stable. This is a mind that restricts excesses from coming into our lives.
“Be serious” is an urgent command. “Deal decisively with your instability. Do not panic. Keep sound as a bell.” The person who is never at rest does not do much praying. Stability comes from orientation to the plan of God. When we keep balance in our thought life, we are not flighty and carried away by distorted thinking or by attacks from men.
The idea is that God wants us to approach life free from frivolous and irresponsible living. We take life seriously. We understand the consequences of our decisions for time and eternity. We know the impact of our decisions on ourselves and others and take a responsible approach to life. We do not abandon ourselves to such excitement that we lose self-control. We cultivate spiritual calmness.
God wants us to establish balance in times of disaster.
The Christian should have the ability to think stably. Do you keep your thinking stable in times of trouble? It is very easy to allow some disaster to cause a wide variety in the consistency of our thinking. Our thought life determines how well we live the Christian life.
The Christian life comes down to what we think. Mental attitude sins such as bitterness, antagonism, fear, worry, anxiety, jealousy, or a guilt complex will destroy our stability. We need this stability before we enter the storm. If we enter suffering conditions without stability, we will crack up mentally.
We need something greater than ourselves to face disaster conditions. This greater thinking is thinking about the Word of God and his providential care for us. The more of the Word we get into our orientation toward life, the more stable we will be. We will have a greater capacity to deal with whatever we face. As you move into the storms of experience, you need to have the Word firmly lodged in your thinking patterns. This will give you the stability you need in the trials of life.
Some Christians enter psychotic or neurotic dimensions even without heavy duress. This is a case of the difference between the charge of the mosquito and the charge of the elephant. How we handle the bite of the mosquito will determine how we handle the charge of the elephant. In principle, the elephant goes down the same way as the mosquito. When we are in the ordinary experiences of life, we need to learn how to cope with mosquito issues. We cannot depend on other people to help us. This is something that we must learn for ourselves.
Do you approach life frivolously and irresponsibly? Do you take life seriously? We should keep the importance of eternal issues before us at all times. We need to be aware of the consequences of our actions, both for time and eternity. We need to be mindful of the effects of our actions on ourselves and others.