Faith and “Sophron”

A question popped in my head this week. That question was “what does really mean to be sober?”I knew it must mean more than “not drunk”. I had been reading through the books of Thessalonians and Paul urged them to be sober or clear-headed. I remembered scriptures where Peter encouraged the same thing in his letters. I Peter 1:13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. I Peter 4:7 The end of all things i near; therefore, be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:8

Did I catch your attention with “sophron”? Any Greek scholars responding? Sophron as found in the New Testament Greek lexicon means “of a sound mind, sane, in one’s senses’; curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate. They also translated it as prudent or sensible, chaste and sober. I think both Paul and Peter were encouraging their readers to look at life realist ically, aware of their circumstances but not controlled by them.

I get the privilege of teaching two of my grandchildren health this semester. We are using the same textbook as other public middle/high school students are required to use. This is a required course for their graduation. It hasn’t been easy. Some of the topics are difficult. Having to talk about drugs, violence, date rape, domestic abuse, child abuse and the other areas of darkness which sin has polluted God’s purpose brought me to my knees as well as hurt my heart. I don’t want to focus on this reality. But it is real. Neither I nor their parents can keep them in a naïve bubble. So let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. (I Thessalonians 5:6 ESV) or as the NLT version states: So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.

So the question is how do we stay sober without getting overwhelmed with the reality of our culture’s departure from God’s best? We must release our faith. We must ground them and us in His goodness. We must balance it with teaching how they can be the light in the darkness, how they can learn to be part of the solution, not escalate the problem. I believe we can also teach tolerance, conflict resolution, and give them other relationship building tools. What we don’t need to do is wring our hands and feel sad and downhearted for them. God knew they were going to be born in this season, and He has a plan for them. Let us concentrate on equipping them and ourselves with hope and faith. Let’s teach them to put on the whole armour of God and strengthen their ability to stand against the wiles of the evil one. But, first we must model it in our own lives, we can do this!

Father, I thank you for your grace for this season. I thank you for helping us learn what it means to have sober thinking in the midst of our culture. Not to try to escape the troubles through drunkenness. To be like those who do not stay awake, but choose to sleep in excess. We need your help and courage today to equip the next generation. Raise up teachers. Raise up leaders who will model how to be sober-minded, but also full of your joy and strength. We choose to trust you today, In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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