Saturday, October 06, 2007

To be sober or sensible

One of the areas in which the older women are to train the young is to be sensible or sober-minded When I was a little girl, this didn't sound too appealing to me. I thought it meant to be stern and humorless. But, as I learned more, I realized that, of course, this isn't what the concept of being sensible means after all. In fact, joy, peace, gratitude, and gentleness are also hallmarks of the faithful woman or man. That doesn't sound at all stern or humorless does it?

So, what does it mean to teach one to be sober-minded or sensible? This phrase comes from the Greek word that is transliterated into English as "sopronizo". It has the meaning of restoring one to his or her senses, to hold one to his or her duty, to moderate someone or to teach (disciple) them, to admonish, and to exhort earnestly.

In Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus, he instructs that both men and women should have the quality of "sophron". Someone who is "sophron", translated as discreet, sober, or sensible, is of sound mind, sane, self-controlled, temperate, and able to curb his or her appetites and feelings.

The process of being trained to be sober by older women and of training ourselves to be sober may not be very fun - in the moment. But, in the long run, it yields joy and peace.

After all, look at what happens when we fail to be sober-minded and sensible: We strain our budget with a rash purchase. We let PMS get the better of us, and we speak harshly to a beloved child. We react hysterically to a situation, rather than trusting the Lord, and our lack of control discourages others. We read lots of religious books and are always learning, but we never seem to actually put what we learn into practice.

If we do cultivate the quality of being sober-minded or sensible, how will that help us? Here are just a few ideas:

1) We will grow in our knowledge of God and his word; we will be able to apply God's word to our lives
2) We will learn to rely on God's wisdom and not on our own understanding; we will have peace, because we trust God to give us whatever wisdom we need. We will be able to walk by faith, and not by sight, because our mind is trained to trust the Lord.
3) We will think before we act, rather than acting rashly. In this way, we will avoid many painful consequences, both for the affects our actions have on other and for ourselves. We will know when a situation calls for a quick prayer and urgent, zealous action and when to wait in prayer before making a decision.
4) We will think maturely; we won't be prone to every wind of teaching; our relatioinship to Lord will be more stable.
5) We will use time wisely.
6) We will use money wisely.
7) We will order our priorities wisely.
8) We will live with eternity in mind.
9) We will control our tongues, thereby saying things that build others up. How much pain we will avoid by speaking wisely, rather than rashly!
10) We will keep our heads in an emergency. We will be a help rather than a hindrance.

I doubt if any one of us can say that we've fully arrived at being sensibly-minded. Some of us will find the road to this trait harder than others will. Some people, by nature, are giving and loving and quick to believe, yet are impulsive. Others are practical and self-contained by nature, but they may find it hard to walk by faith, rather than by sight. They may also have trouble being warm and spontaneous with others. The key is not to look down on each other's particular struggles, but to lovingly and persistently help each other mature.

In the same way, we need to persevere in order to train ourselves to be sober. This takes prayer, meditating on God's word, a heart that is willing to learn from those who are older and who are more mature in their thinking, and time. It also takes faith that the Lord will grant our desire to please him in this area.


Sandra said...

This is such a great post. I want to print it off so I can spend time re-reading it. I think this is one of the most important posts you've written Elizabeth and something we women need to learn and live by.

Thanks so much for teaching me once again.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, Sandra.

Writing about it has forced me to think about it, as well.


Lea said...

As an "older" I want to thank you for the reminder...I sometimes forget my role....