How do you stay ‘sober?’

March 12, 2013 — 2 Comments

You decide to take a two millennium poll of Christians on how to grow in holiness and conformity to Christ. In every century, you would find men and women pointing to the classic practices of prayer and scripture meditation; fasting, and giving to the poor. You would also find words like ‘nepsis’ (Greek for watchfulness), or vigilance, or alertness, or guarding the heart, or sobriety.

By SOBRIETY, they would mean moderation with substances – but more so – self-control in all areas.  “Restraint and moderation which avoids excess in passion (drives), rashness, or confusion.”

Here are some quotes and Scriptures, some of which were included in a recent sermon on “Sober Living.”   

   So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 1 Thes 5:6
   But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 1 Thes. 5:8

  As for you (Timothy), always be sober-minded 2 Tim. 4:5
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13
   The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 1 Peter 4:7
   Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

   “Our holy fathers have renounced all other spiritual work and concentrated wholly on this one doing, that is, on guarding the heart, convinced that, through this practice, they would easily attain every other virtue, whereas without it not a single virtue can be firmly established.”
Symeon, the New Theologian

I certainly don’t model perfect faithfulness, but here are 3 things I hope to keep working on for the duration of my life:

1. A “Rule of Prayer.” Prayer and scripture disciplines are a place of constant reminder. This includes Psalms and other Bible reading and study; the Lord’s Prayer, the Jesus Prayer, and the Lenten prayer of Ephrem the Syrian. (I’ve linked previous posts that give more detail.)

2. No Secrets.  Hebrews 4:13 reminds us that everything is open and laid bare to God’s eyes. Living transparently with my wife (and close colleagues) is vital.

3. Aggressive Health Maintenance. We are whole people. Keeping the body strong and fit will reinforce the focus of the heart, soul, and mind.

Leave a comment.


2 responses to How do you stay ‘sober?’


    How do I stay sober, what keeps me sober me sober, when I am spinning and separating like blood in a centrifuge? So my thoughts spin and seperate in my mind.

    I like the peace of sobriety and it is a gift from God to help us persevere. I suffer from several disorders that steal the peace and comfort of sobriety.

    I want to do more, say more, and make a difference. But I am really driven at times, in a disorganized, way to make a mark in the world. Then I am driven to despair.

    But God has provided a space for me in his peace.

    I have been reading in James about suffering and perseverance. I have also learned that temptation is one of the causes of suffering. James 1:12 speaks about temptation and suffering in the context of perseverance.

    So many men of the Bible we’re tempted under some type of stress. Jesus was in the wilderness and after fasting for 40 days. John the Baptist was in prison when he sent his disciplines to inquire about Jesus, long after he baptized him. It seems like Esau’s brother Jacob was always a mess from beginning to the end. He was always afraid of his big brother and a stressed by many other things.

    For me I am tempted and under stress and suffering as I have gotten older and have health issues. I have had to learn about trials agin. Some of them have been more cruel on this second visit. But it has been wonderful to learn relearn these lessons. Like Sarah having her great joy of being a mother in her old age.

    So for me I take comfort in doing less; in staying in God’s word more; in persevering in the the face of temptation; and, looking to Jesus for strength and my eternal mark.


    Thanks Rod,
    It’s interesting that Martin Luther said we grow through 3 things: Prayer, Meditation on the Word, and Suffering! In the ‘School of Discipleship’ we want to skip the class on suffering!

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