Vol.IV No.IX Pg.4
October 1967

A Christian Is Sober

Robert F. Turner

Ours is an age which puts emphasis upon the off-beat, weight upon that which is flimsy and light. We are easily "caught up" in this trend; so the straight line becomes more and more rare, even on the most serious subjects. But Christianity is no joke, and the Christian must learn seriousness, at the risk of being thought a "square" (or the modern equivalent).

Paul told Titus (1:8) a bishop must be sober, just, holy, temperate. That word "sober" does not refer to freedom from alcohol, primarily; but calls for a certain state of mind or attitude -- sometimes translated "sensible." The Greek is "sophron," a combine of "save" and "mind." A "soundminded" person exercises common sense, is not a radical, is discreet. It is easy to see how this would be a necessary qualification for an overseer.

But when Paul tells Titus to teach the things which become sound doctrine (Titus 2:1-f) he lists the need for aged men to be "sober, grave, temperate"; the later from "sophron" and meaning "soberminded" or "sensible". The older women are to teach the younger women to be sober, or "discrete." Titus is to exhort young men to be "soberminded" (again, from our word "sophron"); and Titus is to do his teaching with "gravity."

In the more general passage of Rom. 12:3 we are told not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think, "but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." Apparently this "sober" attitude is a sort of antidote and antithesis of one of our greatest faults, egotism. In the past various religions have made a "long face" the sign of piety, so that laughter was practically a sin. The same spirit was reflected in clothing, which must be drab, unattractive, and out of style. I believe these extremes often resulted in folk taking "pride" in their very lack of conformity, so that their garb and conduct became symbols of godliness "to be seen of men" rather than the genuine article. But this could not be charged against them all; nor can we deny that today's so-called Christian who is giddy with foolishness, and slave to silly fashions, makes a fool of themself and violates God's exhortation to be sober, sensible.

This will not set well with some of today's church-members, but I believe it should be said. A Christian is conservative in dress and manner, and can not take the lead in fashion and "continental" foolishness. Today's absurdities may become tomorrow's norm (although "fads" seldom get such general acceptance) but if they do, I believe a Christian should wait for tomorrow, even for those practices morally right within themselves. (We assume that if you have read this far you know we would not advocate participation in a thing wrong within itself, no matter how stylish.)

A Christian is concerned primarily with salvation of the soul. Thoughts are upon "things above, not on things on the earth." (Col .3:2) "The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer" (1 Pet.4:7). JUDGEMENT WILL SOBER US!!