Jun 21, 2006

Living Soberly

"I'll talk to him later when he sobers up." No one enjoys being around a drunk for long.

The biblical definition of "sober" is not a term we hear preached much any more. When I asked my children recently what they thought "sober" meant, one answered "not drunk," which is a pretty typical response, I'm sure. I started to say that that's what most people think of, when I realized that it actually is a good definition for the biblical use as well.

Consider a couple verses: we are told to think soberly, to watch and be sober, be sober-minded, and to live soberly, among several others.

But what does this really mean? If we consider the common definition as not having consumed alcoholic beverages, we can picture the behavior of someone who is not drunk, especially in comparison with the drunkard. We picture someone who is serious, who has self-control, who walks uprightly, who speaks clearly and distinctly, who thinks logically, and who is in his right mind. Would this also accurately describe how a Christian ought to live?

Webster's 1928 dictionary describes sober as "not under the influence of passion; serious; solemn; calm; temperate." Not under the influence of passion. So much of today's life seems to be controlled by one passion or another, one lust or another. We are an entertainment-driven society. We want to see exciting movies; hear loud, pounding music; experience body-tingling thrills, have our taste buds continually excited; arouse all kinds of passions and sensations within us.

Now God certainly does not want us to be passion-less, but we should not let our passions, our emotions, our sensual selves, be in control either. We should have a deep, abiding passion for the things above, not the things that are temporary and of no eternal value.

Being sober also must not mean being so serious we cannot have fun or be happy. Paul tells us over and over again to rejoice in the Lord always; while at the same time telling us to be sober. Our joy in life should come from the Lord. Our passion in life should be for the Lord. We should be dead serious about what the Lord has called each of us to do in this life, and at the same time, we should be full of joy in every minute of serving Him.

We only have one life to live. We can live it for the passions of this passing world, or we can live it for the passions of eternity.

Be sober and love life!


Mark Epstein said...

You have raised an issue many American Christians struggle with -- meaning. Having been raised in a Jewish home, there was no prohibition against drinking alcoholic beverages, as long as it was done in moderation (no tipsiness, drunkeness). I have heard many denominations claim that "new wine" isn't alcoholic and, therefore, early Jewish Christians weren't drinking alcoholic beverages. NONSENSE! This conflicts with the same "new wine" that apparently intoxicated the men on Pentecost (see Acts). However, despite the fact early Christians consumed alcoholic beverages (and many still do), you've identified the REAL issue: lust of the flesh (self-centered "passion"). Christ expects us to be passionate about Him, but He teaches us not to be passionate about the lusts of the flesh. Human sexual relations are to be maintained within the framework of a loving husband-wife, relationship, not passionate self-absorption seen within the immoral hetero and homosexual lifestyles of today's America. Children are to be obedient to parents, forgoing their passionate feelings they might consider "rights." The list is endless, but it underscores what you've properly identified. Good job!

e-Mom said...

This is a wonderful site! I see we're like-minded, covering similar topics. God bless you in your ministry here.

RefCal said...

Surely you mean Webster's 1828 Dictionary

Jen said...

Thanks, RC, for that correction. Yes, it is the 1828 dictionary.