Sobriety of Mind Urged on Young Men
Titus 2:6
Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

The word in our text, strictly translated, means "sound minded," or healthy minded, and implies the conviction that there is a certain standard of character, or condition of the mind which bears an analogy to health of body, a condition in which all the functions of the mind are in their right state, in which sound or healthy views of things are taken, in which no part of human nature is either inoperative or unduly developed. In this large sense, soundness of mind may serve as a description of the harmony or regular action implied in virtue; but inasmuch as the passions and desires, excited by objects which have strong influence over us in our present state of being, more than anything else destroy sanity of mind, the term is usually confined to the control over worldly desires, and to views of life which commend themselves to right reason. Thus, soundness of mind includes self-restraint and temperance, the former of which is the power of governing the passions, and the other the habit of using all pleasures without going to excess. But soundness or sobriety of mind is more radical than either of these, for it includes those just views of life, that appreciation of the value of enjoyment and of the world compared with duty and the higher life of the soul, without the sway of which in the soul it can neither exercise continence, nor self-control, nor temperance. Soundness or sobriety of mind, also, is far from stopping at the boundaries of the passions, especially the sensual; all the desires, even those which have little to do with the body, as the desire of fame, of power, of superiority, and the desire of wealth — the means of gratifying all other desires — are placed under its control.

I. AS THUS UNDERSTOOD, SOBRIETY OF MIND IS TO BE DISTINGUISHED FROM. A NATIVE SLUGGISHNESS OR CAUTIOUSNESS WHICH MAY CONSPIRE WITH IT TO PREVENT EXCESS. If a man, for instance, can never become angry, he may be saved from many foolish and sinful acts, but it is many times better to have a power of subduing anger, which you have acquired by exertions which have cost you something, than to be a stone. Moreover, if such native sobriety of mind exists, it is rare. There is generally some weak spot, where passion can with success approach men who seem like icicles. What class of persons is more thoroughly worldly than many who are proof against the allurements of vice, but speculate with the gambler's intense excitement, or burn with a devouring lust for power. Perhaps the greatest insobriety of mind belongs to those who, in most respects, have an entire mastery over themselves — who view the world on many of its sides as it is, but concentrate all their forces on one object, with an untiring restless fever of soul which the votary of pleasure seldom knows.

II. THE APOSTLE'S SOBER MINDEDNESS IS NOT TO BE CONFOUNDED WITH THAT SELF CONTROL WHICH SPRINGS FROM WORLDLY PRUDENCE AND SHREWD CALCULATIONS OF SUCCESS IN LIFE. There are men who live exclusively for earthly enjoyment, who yet have attained to a mastery over their own lusts. They know what the laws of health will allow, what the body will bear, how far they may go in pleasure consistently with prudence and economy, what degree of restraint is demanded to preserve their reputation. They will, therefore, keep themselves sober while their less discreet, and perhaps less corrupt, companions are intoxicated at their side; they live a long healthy life, while others die of the effects of vicious indulgence, and retain their good name while others ruin themselves in the opinion of society. Verily, they have their reward; but their sober mindedness is certainly no such virtue that even a philosopher could commend it.

III. SOBRIETY OF MIND, BEING SOMETHING MORE THAN A TEMPERAMENT AVERSE TO EXCESS, SOMETHING MORE THAN SELF-CONTROL ON SELFISH PRINCIPLES MAY BE LOOKED AT AS A PHILOSOPHICAL, OR AS A CHRISTIAN VIRTUE. In both cases, it is a subordination of the desires and passions to the higher principles of the soul; in both, it is a spontaneous self-government according to the rules of right living, not according to calculations of temporal advancement. When we speak of Christian sobriety of mind, we mean nothing generically different from the notion which philosophy had already formed. But we mean sobriety of mind sustained by Christian principles, enforced by Christian motives, and dwelling amid other manifestations of a Christian or purified character. Let us consider it when thus broadly understood, in some of its most prominent characteristics.

1. It involves an estimate of earthly pleasure and good formed under the power of faith. With Christ's advent into the world, a new idea of life began, and the victory of the spirit over the flesh is rendered possible.

2. But it is not enough to have a standard of character; the young man, if he would be sober minded, must have rules of living calculated beforehand to resist the allurements of the world when they arise It is the part of Christian ethics to make known what rules are needed for our moral guidance, and to enforce them by the appropriate motives. In this place, no such thing can be attempted, and yet I cannot pass on without calling your attention to one or two parts of conduct, where it is peculiarly important to have well settled principles of action.

(1) In regard to the bodily appetites, Christian sobriety begins to be lost as soon as they are made ends in themselves, without regard to something higher.

(2) In regard to amusements and diversions, sobriety consists in keeping them in their place, as recreations after bodily and mental toil. They must not then usurp the rights of labour, unless we are resolved to destroy the earnestness and seriousness of character, which grows out of a conviction that life is full of meaning.

3. Need I add that rules must be followed by a settled purpose, by a resolution formed in the view of spiritual and divine truth to adopt such a course of life as sobriety of mind requires.

(T. D. Woolsey.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

WEB: Likewise, exhort the younger men to be sober minded;

Sober-Minded Youth
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