“For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:7-8).
For Paul the Apostle, the metaphors of light, dark, day, and night offered a rich vein of spiritual insight. For instance, night time represented the realm of those who were asleep, a period where they were unconscious to the reality of the world around them. It was also the time when those who sought to deaden their senses through alcohol abuse had ample opportunity to do so.
In contrast, people of the day (or the light) exhibited the characteristics of those who were “…wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard) and… sober (calm, collected, and circumspect)” (AMPC). Paul used these metaphors to illustrate some of the differences between those who seek to follow Christ and those who do not.
This passage also serves to remind us of Jesus’ cautionary message from Matthew chapter twenty-four…
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.
But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:45-51).
We can derive an important spiritual lesson from this portion of Scripture. You see, those who follow Jesus have been entrusted with an obligation to employ their God-given gifts, skills, talents, and opportunities in a sober, dedicated manner. Unlike others who regard their lives as an opportunity for self-indulgence (like the unprofitable servant in the parable quoted above), we can redeem the time by adopting a mindset that views life as an investment on Christ’s behalf.
Those who do so follow Jesus’ personal example as well: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).