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.
QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU DO TO ‘STAY SOBER?’
Leave a comment.