BE sober.” And does not that mean, first, moderation in all things? Do not be so excited with joy as to become childish. Do not grow intoxicated and delirious with worldly gain or honor. On the other hand, do not be too much depressed with passing troubles. There are some who are so far from sobriety that, if a little goes wrong with them, they are ready to cry, “Let me die.” No, no. “Be sober.” Keep the middle way: hold to the golden mean. There are many persons to whom this exhortation is most needful. Are there not men around us who blow hot to-day and cold tomorrow? — their heat is torrid, their cold arctic. You would think they were angels from the way they talk one day, but you might think them angels of another sort from the manner in which they act at other times. They are so high up, or so low down, that in each case they are extreme To-day they are carried away with this, and the next carried away with that. I knew a Christian man right well to whom I was accustomed to use one salutation whenever I saw him. He was a good man, but changeable. I said to him, “Good morning, friend? what are you now?” He was once a valiant Arminian, setting young people right as to the errors of my Calvinistic teaching. A short time after, he became exceedingly Calvinistic himself, and wanted to screw me up several degrees; but I declined to yield. Anon he became a Baptist, and agreed with me on all points, so far as I know. This was not good enough, and therefore he became a Plymouth Brother; and after that he went to the Church from which he originally set out. When I next met him I said, “Good morning, brother, what are you now?” He replied, “That is too bad, Mr. Spurgeon, you asked me the same question last time.” I replied, “Did I? But what are you now? Will the same answer do?” I knew it would not.
I would earnestly say to all such brethren, “Be sober. Be sober.” It cannot be wise to stagger all over the road in this fashion. Make sure of your footing when you stand; make doubly sure of it before you shift.
To be sober means to have a calm, clear head, to judge things after the rule of right, and not according to the rule of mob. Be not influenced by those who cry loudest in the street, or by those who beat the biggest drum. Judge for yourselves as men of understanding. Judge as in the sight of God with calm deliberation. “Be sober,” that is, be clear-headed. The man who drinks, and thus destroys the sobriety of his body is befogged, and muddled, and has lost his way. Ceasing to be sober, he makes a fool of himself. Do not commit this sin spiritually. Be specially clear-headed and calm as to the things of God.
Ask that the grace of God may so rule in your heart that you may be peaceful and serene, and not troubled with idle fear on one side or with foolish hope on the other. “Be sober,” says the apostle. You know the word translated “be sober” sometimes means “be watchful;” and indeed there is a great kinship between the two things. Live with your eyes open; do not go about the world half asleep. Many Christians are asleep. Whole congregations are asleep. The minister snores theology, and the people in the pews nod in chorus. Much sacred work is done in a sleepy style. You can have a Sunday School, and teachers and children can be asleep. You can have a tract-distributing society, with visitors going round to the doors all asleep; you can do everything in a dreamy way if so it pleases you. But says the apostle, — be watchful, be alive; brethren, look alive; be so awakened up by these grand arguments with which we have plied you already, that you shall brace yourselves up, and throw your whole strength into the service of your Lord and Master.
Finally, let us “hope to the end. ” Never despair; never even doubt. Hope when things look hopeless. A sick and suffering brother rebuked me the other day for being cast down. He said to me, “We ought never to show the white feather; but I think you do sometimes.” I asked him what he meant, and he replied, “You sometimes seem to grow desponding and low.
Now I am near to die, but I have no clouds and no fears.” I rejoiced to see him so joyous and I answered, “That is right, my brother, blame me as much as you please for my unbelief, I richly deserve it.” “Why,” he said, “you are the father of many of us. Did you not bring me and my friend over yonder to Christ? If you get low in spirit after so much blessing, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.” I could say no other than, “I am ashamed of myself, and I desire to be more confident in the future.” Brethren, we must hope, and not fear. Be strong in holy confidence in God’s word, and be sure that his cause will live and prosper. Hope, says the apostle; hope to the end; go right through with it; if the worst comes to the worst, hope still. Hope as much as ever a man can hope; for when your hope is in God you cannot hope too much.