Sober and alert: Devotional Commentary for August 22-28
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
7For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night.
8But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.
Paul exhorts believers to reflect the characters that are attributable to God's redeemed children. Unlike those who sleep and get drunk in the dark at night, the redeemed of God walk in daylight. We should conduct ourselves circumspectly. We ought to be alert, temperate, and diligent. We are of the day and not of the night, having been clothed in faith, love, and unfading hope.
These behavioral distinctions delineate the characters that distinguish the children of light from the children of darkness. The redeemed children of God should be always sober and alert in serving God and in living for Christ. Those who belong to darkness and the night linger in spiritual death toward the things of God and persist in a spiritually drunken stupor. So Paul exhorts believers to conduct ourselves in view of our newness in Christ. We should not be spiritually sluggish or lethargic.
Reminding us who we are in Jesus Christ, Paul instructs us to be temperate, self-restrained and serious in what we say and do, and in how we relate with one another and the world around us. As the children of Light, our conduct and character must be marked with solemnity, earnestness, and circumspection. We must live and serve in the daylight of our redemption, and never be caught asleep in the night of sin's darkness.
We must be wise, discerning, watchful, and careful since the light of the Gospel has dawned in our lives. We must exercise our God-given sacred discretion.
We must be armed with the breastplates and helmets of the Word of God to guard our hearts and our minds from the onslaught of the sin-nature and the wickedness of this dark world. That is, the breastplate of faith so we might have courage and the breastplate of love so we might be caring. Our helmet is one of hope, the hope of our sure salvation in Christ so we might have confidence. Therefore, to be sober and alert in Christ is to be courageous, caring, and confident through faith, love, and hope. To be sober in Christ is to live and serve as the redeemed children of God.
9For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
10Who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.
God’s judgment on unbelief is inescapable. The Scriptures affirm that everyone who remains in sin's bondage will be consumed by the heat of His fury when Jesus comes to judge sin. Only those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb will escape His judgment and enter into His Rest.
God does not intend those who belong to Him to experience His wrath. Surely, Christians will from time to time suffer the Lord’s corrective chastisement, but they will never be subjected to Christ’s judgment on sin. He will bring all those who belong to Him into His presence. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
Christians are to encourage, exhort, comfort, strengthen, and edify each other. All those who have been redeemed belong to Christ’s Body. Nothing happens within this redeemed Body of Christ that does not affect the entire assembly of the community of faith. Christ’s Body is dynamic and growing. Actually, it is the evidence of Christ's continued presence on earth. Always learning, always growing, always helping, always witnessing, the Body of Christ fulfills the task that the Spirit gives to its members.
Paul encouraged the believers in Thessalonica to continue in what they have been doing in the past. He commended them for the way they supported and helped each other. When doing this, they showed that they belonged to Christ as a Body by exhibiting the fruit of scriptural admonitions in their conducts and relationships. He wanted them to continue behaving in this manner and adopt these Christian virtues as their way of life. Indeed, they set the example for us.
As the disciples of Jesus Christ, we are admonished to live for Christ and serve God, not only by faith but also faithfully. Certainly, we look forward to the Day of the Lord without being preoccupied with times and dates. Even though we have to wait for our Lord's return, our life must continue to reflect His Lordship and our own responsive obedience to Him. Our life should not be riddled with anxiety and unwarranted doubt.
The Scriptures assure us that the Lord God Almighty is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So are His admonitions and instructions. So is His truth. His Word is settled in heaven. Even though the circumstances around us change because of this unstable world, we can persist in our faith on God because He is trustworthy and immutable. He is God. We can trust Him. We can rest our faith upon Him.
Jesus Christ the Son of the living God is the Rock of our salvation. He is our Foundation. So we must be sober and alert because we have faith, love, and hope in Him. He is our mighty Fortress. We are alive in Him.
To be sober and alert is then: to be alive in Christ; to be like the blessed man mentioned by the Psalmist:
- who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked;
- who does not stand in the path of sinners;
- who does not sit in the seat of scoffers;
- but delights in the Law of the Lord;
- meditates in the Law day and night;
- and who is like a fruitful and flourishing tree planted by streams of water.
To be sober and alert is to live and serve as true follower of Jesus Christ, as salt and light of the Gospel to the world. To be sober and alert is to let Christ reveal Himself in our words and actions. To be sober and alert is to be anchored in Christ.