Levi hadn’t invented his jeans in Jesus’ day. The normal dress was loose flowing robes. This was true in the Old Testament days as well. The robes that people normally wore were impractical for hard work or fast travel but more specifically were a real hindrance in battle. Therefore the phrase, “gird up your loins,” is a common expression throughout the bible. There was a belt that could be worn around the waist in which the loose ends of the robe could be snugly tucked into to allow for free action of movement. When Elijah ran ahead of Ahab to Jezreel (1 Kings 18:46), the text says, “He girded up his loins, and ran…” Some modern translations say “tucking his cloak into his belt” he ran ahead of Ahab. Others simply say he “wrapped his coat around himself.” God called Job to “gird up his loins” also (Job 38:8). It appears in several other passages as well. The various translations say the same thing but use different phrases: brace yourself (NIV), be strong (NCV), prepare yourself (NKJV), get ready (CEV), be ready (CEV).

The common thread with the various translations is the idea of strengthening oneself for imminent action! Something is going down and you need to get the loose ends wrapped up so you can deal with it without any hindrances. According to Paul, Ephesians 6:14, the belt into which we tuck up our loose ends is called “the belt of truth.” He says, “stand strong, be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist” (CEV). In keeping with the fact that we’re talking about a battle for the thoughts and minds Peter addresses us with a similar exhortation. He writes in 1 Peter 1:13, “gird up the loins of your mind” (KJV).

When we are wrapped around with the truth, we can resist a lot of attacks. Kent Hughes tells how he once imaginatively pictured the Apostle Paul at the end of his career dressed in the armor that he described in Ephesians 6. Here is how Hughes describes Paul: “He has worn his war belt so long that it is sweaty through and through and salt-stained and comfortable like an old horse’s bridle, and it holds everything perfectly in place. The belt of truth … has girded him tight for years, so that it has permeated his life and reigns within. He is armed with the clear eyes of a clean conscience. He can face anything.” Jesus once said that “the truth will set you free.” He was right on several levels. God’s truth in Christ sets us free from slavery to sin and death. Truth as a rule and standard of life sets us free from the webs of deceit we may weave in our lives that trip us up so often and cause us such pain in life. But if we’re girded with truth, we can, like Paul, face anything!