Sober-Mindedness is Not Starchiness, Solemn is Not Sad

Mack Tomlinson: Our next question for Michael, “Speak to the topic of sober-mindedness. How do we encourage ourselves about sober-mindedness, and how do we encourage one another about sober-mindedness?”

Michael Durham: There is a difference between being sober-minded and starchy. I think stodgy might be another word you might want to use. As it is exhorted in the scriptures, I think sober-mindedness is you take Christ seriously and his directives seriously. It’s not a killjoy; it’s not a life that lacks pleasure and excitement. It’s just the opposite. You are so besought; you are so intoxicated with the desire of pleasure in God that you are serious about sin and anything that would hinder that. And that is cultivated. I think relationally, as we pursue Christ himself and the joy that is in him. I was talking earlier with someone; I use the word fascination because this really helps me to understand where is my fascination today? Is it with Christ, or is it with something else? We can be easily fascinated with other things. That’s just the nature of our fallenness. And so to maintain fascination with Christ, I have to see Christ as he is, as he’s revealed in Scripture. And so, with the word of God and confidence in the Holy Spirit, I go to the word that I might have an encounter with God. That’s the key for me. That’s how we develop sober-mindedness by keeping Christ before us and experiencing his greatness on our behalf; that fuels what I believe the questioner is asking.

Mack: Other thoughts?

Paul Washer: There’s a poem that I read many years ago that I’ve always, I hope I can quote it now, but it was the Nazarene could hunger and the Nazarene could cry, and he could laugh with all the fullness of his heart. And those who hardly knew him and those who knew him well could see the contradiction from the start. And men that can fast for weeks. Men that can stand when everyone else around them is falling or running. And then men who can take their five-year-old daughter by the hand and dance a jig through the kitchen. There’s no contradiction in that. You know you see these pictures of sometimes priests and philosophers in paintings where they’re holding up a skull and you look at that and go, it’s kind of morbid. And it was to some of them. But what’s being communicated by the artist is that to contemplate the reality of our mortality, to live in light of that, we are people who are dealing with the most weighty matters of reality life, death, heaven, hell, eternity. We’re also dealing with the reality of a solemn stewardship that has been laid upon us. We’re also dealing with something that is often very the solemn, the solemn order of time that each one of us is given an amount of time and talent and opportunities and gifts, and to be able to use all that for the glory of God. While at the same time solemn is not sad and solemn is not sad, as a matter of fact, one thing that I was sharing with some of the men here is that the greatest gift you can give your family is joy, that the joy of your family is going to depend sir on, not the joy of your wife, but your own joy. Not an artificial joy, but a facet of the fruit of the spirit. So those are some things to think about.