Think for a moment about various tasks that you perform in your life that require much thought and dexterity. Perhaps you operate heavy machinery, perform surgery, fix a delicate object, or even drive a vehicle. How much concentration and control are necessary to perform these functions? What would most likely happen if you were not able to concentrate upon the task at hand, or you were not able to control your hands or body as you would like: would you still be able to succeed?
Most people recognize that there are many functions in life that require our full attention and that if we are being impeded by something else, we often make mistakes and fail in many ways. This recognition attests to the need for sobriety.
When most people think of being “sober”, most automatically apply the idea to alcohol or another form of drug: someone who is “sober” is not drunk on alcohol or high on some various drug. This is certainly an acceptable use of the term, but the word is more expansive than that: to be sober is to be free from any intoxicant. Certainly, alcohol and drugs represent intoxicants, but, power, fame, sex, money, and many other things can intoxicate people. Anything that excites a person so that he constantly desires the same form of excitement can intoxicate.
The Scriptures speak often about the need for the Christian to be sober. In 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8, Paul compares the Christian with others in terms of being “in light” versus “in darkness”, and as “sober” versus “drunk”, using the idea as it is most familiar to people. Nevertheless, many times the Scriptures speak of being “sober minded” (2 Corinthians 5:13, 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8, Titus 2:2; 5; 6). Paul charged Timothy to be sober “in all things” in 2 Timothy 4:5.
It is manifest, then, that God expects the Christian to live his or her life free of such intoxicants– indeed, alcohol and drugs are included, but also anything else that would redirect the Christian from his God. Too many people become intoxicated with money, social status, sports, or other activities or concepts that otherwise would be harmless but have consumed the mind. The love of money is considered to be “a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), and not a few people have put the cares and concerns of this world before concern over their eternal soul to their own detriment (Matthew 13:22). Idolatry, simply defined, represents anything which a man places before the One True God; just as Israel served Baal, how many today serve money, social status, sex, drugs, alcohol, and the like? Such is not pleasing to God (Galatians 5:19-21)!
God has charged humans to put first His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), and the rest of the necessities of life will follow. If we are going to be able to serve God as effectively as we can, we must not allow our minds to be intoxicated by anything: we must be sober, watching out for the Devil’s schemes lest we sin (1 Peter 5:8). Sobriety must be a constant in our lives; living the Christian life requires our greatest focus and dexterity (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Let us live soberly today!