I have to believe this is the craziest blog title I've ever come up with! It might be a question that caught you off guard as well. If you're a former high school friend, you know I stayed away from all things alcohol for fear of it impacting basketball. If you're a college friend, you know the only consumption I had was when my roommates put vodka in my Diet Mountain Dew as a joke. (Real funny guys!!) And if you're one of my former athletes, I want you to know I still believe alcohol is only going to get you in trouble. So with all that, said, I have to confess my answer to the question is yes.
Now before you question Job or call my mom, let me explain - Last Sunday in church our pastor posed this question, "Are you drunk with the world?" Now, he's asked this question before, specifically when he was preaching through 1 Peter. Verse 13 tells us, "Therefore with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is to be revealed as His coming." At that time, he reminded us that sometimes the best way to understand something is to look at what it's not. If we are to be sober, that means we are not to be drunk. Peter is talking about more than physically consuming alcohol. We can be drunk on the world, on pride, lust, or materialism.
But this week I realized my drink of choice was doubt. God has been confirming the call He has on my life, opening doors and leading me to step out. After I took a step of obedience, Satan served up a BIG drink of doubt. Each time I finished one drink, he was there to hand me another. I didn't really realize this though until our pastor asked the question and I have to admit following that moment in the sermon my mind started to wonder.
I thought about the actions of drunk people - they do things they often regret, they say things that are foolish, they waste time and money, they take risks and set a bad example. Friend there was a time I felt grateful that I never did that, but last week in a spiritual sense I did all of this - I worried, I voiced my worries often, wasted time worrying and I set a bad example for all those who saw me consumed with worry. I was drunk spiritually and that's not a good thing.
So this past week I've spent sometime studying what it means to be sober. According to the dictionary it means to abstain from alcohol, be under self-control and be in the right mind. Other definitions also added of sound moral quality, sensible and reasonable. I took my word study a step further and looked at the Greek meaning of the word (nepho); during Peter's time this word meant - self-restrained, calm, thoughtful, of good sense, level headed in times of stress, temperate and vigilant. Being sober is more than not just drinking - we can be intoxicated with past sins, worry and the cares of this world.
God has more to say about this...in 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 we read, "So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night, but since we belong to the day let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." Matthew Henry said this, "Sobriety is usually opposed to excess in meats and drinks, and here particularly it is opposed to drunkenness, but it also extends to other temporal things." These "things" can distract us and keep us from doing what we, as disciples, need to do.
One of those things is to recognize the attacks of the devil. 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Friends, he is on the attack, but if we are intoxicated, whether it be physically or spiritually, we will not be able to stand our ground.
Friend, drunkenness won't just keep us from recognizing Satan's attacks it will also keep us from prayer. Listen to this wisdom found in 1 Peter 4:7, "The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray." Sobriety is important, it's necessary for us to draw near to the heart of God. Enough said?
Finally a few Scriptures that speak specifically to literally being drunk, but I believe have a lesson that's important in a spiritual sense as well. Proverbs 23:20-21 says, "Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on mean, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags." Drinking alcohol has consequences and being drunk spiritually does the same. It doesn't matter what our "drink" of choice is...when our soul is intoxicated we are not wearing the robe of righteousness we've been given.
One last reason to stay sober spiritually is found in a passage that is near to my heart - Titus 2:3, "Likewise teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanders or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good." And if we continue on the end of verse 5 tells us why; not only to teach young women, but "so that no one will malign the Word of God." Friend, drunkenness impacts the things we do, the example we set and the witness we share.
So with that sobriety is a must, but how does that happen? I've talked with people who've struggled with addictions and one thing they each said was, "It's a choice." Friend, we don't have to pick up the drink, listen to the lies or let lust take over. When this is a choice we've made for a long time, it won't be easy, which is why we must follow Matthew Henry's advice, "Watch and pray against sins we are inclined to fall into." I also believe it's important to share our struggle...you might not be an alcoholic, but if you're addicted to doubt, struggle with pride or anything else that hinders your soul and infects your mind, tell someone. Ask them for prayer and give them permission to keep you accountable.
This week as I've studied the topic and talked about it with my husband, my kids have joined in the conversation. My 12 year old son, replayed a recent commercial and we laughed as perfectly echoed the announcers deep voice, "Stay Sober or Get Pulled Over!" That's true in life, but it's also true as we walk in faith...when we allow ourselves to get spiritually drunk, Satan is pulling us over and keeping us from living out God's call.
I also took a little liberty and adapted the phrase to fit my situation, "Stay Sober or Your Mind Will Take Over". When I let doubts and worries intoxicate me, it's not a good a thing, so yet again I'm reminded that I must live out Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Friend, thank you for letting me share my struggle with you...I pray you can learn from it as well. As I've reflected on my thoughts about drinking from the past, I've been struck at how I avoided it as an athlete. It was a risk I didn't take for fear of missing a game and letting down my team...oh how that fails in comparison as I think about it as a disciple. Friend, let's stay sober so we don't miss an opportunity God gives and so we don't let down our Heavenly Father.