November 08, 2021
A few months after our nation went under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, we noticed how social media became a place where people were spewing hate and anger towards each other. It also became a breeding ground for tons of misleading information which stirred up more anxiety and fear among people.
It felt like social media was plagued with a toxicity that poisoned the heart and mind of anyone who was exposed to it. Every day, more and more people become clouded and confused by the emotions and misinformation, which cause social unrest and strains in our relationships with our family and friends.
Living in a pandemic for almost two years now, I realized that what makes fake news effective is not just the lack of one’s ability to assess the legitimacy of information but also the inability to think clearly due to the intoxicating nature of our own feelings and emotions toward it. An honest evaluation of our own experiences would teach us that our emotions and feelings may cause us to make irrational decisions.
What can protect us from the intoxicating effects of our own feelings and emotions whenever we are triggered by negative circumstances?
The Bible encourages us to “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But what does this exactly mean?
The word “sober-minded” literally means being “free from intoxicating substances.” It is often associated with the effects of alcohol and the influence of drugs on a person. Figuratively speaking, a person has a sober mind when he or she can think clearly and objectively or keep his or her emotions under control despite being in an adverse situation.
Simply put, a person who is sober-minded can remain calm in the midst of a storm. It helps us feel the intensity of the storm without being carried away by it. Being sober-minded doesn’t mean that we are to neglect or ignore our emotions. Rather, it helps us navigate through our emotions so we are not consumed and controlled by it.
What are the benefits of being sober-minded?
1. You will be able to channel your feelings and emotions to have a more meaningful experience.
You do not need to scroll too long before you find a post that is emotionally charged or one that encourages you to express your feelings for the sake of expressing them. It seems as though we live in a time where expressing our emotions is the ultimate goal. It is important that we express our emotions, but there is a right way to do so.
Being of sober mind will help you manage your emotions and express them responsibly. But it will also help you use your emotions to be productive and be more creative. Think about it. Imagine channeling your anger and hatred towards injustice by creating a content that would not just make people feel what you feel, but also open their eyes to see the injustices around them. Your emotions became more than just an expression, but a weapon for a good cause.
2. You will make decisions that are guided by truth and reason.
One of the things that puzzles me greatly is the idea that despite the obvious characteristics of fake news, a lot of people still fall prey to it. Social media is marred with fake information that has the potential to mislead people and cause harm. While it is true that everyone has the tendency to subscribe to fake news, it is those who are easily swayed by their emotions that are lured into the trap of misinformation.
This is why having a sober mind is important for everyone, especially for those who are prone to being easily influenced by their emotions. Being a sober-minded person allows us to clear our minds from the cloud of confusion by using truth and reason. The virtue of sober-mindedness becomes a hand that raises up truth and reason as a guiding light as we make decisions in life.
3. You will protect your life from harmful mindsets and influences.
We live in a world wherein we are exposed to different beliefs, ideologies, and opinions, and some of these could potentially harm us. As much as we want to take full control of our environment, we know that we do not have the power to do that. However, we do have the power to protect and guard ourselves against dangerous influences.
When you are sober-minded, not only can you filter what you expose your mind to but also add a layer of defense from the dangerous content and messages that can intoxicate you. When you are of sober mind, not only can you identify lies and pinpoint fallacious statements, you can also identify the truth.
4. You will be more resilient in the face of adversities.
Adversities are similar to the harmful influences in our environment because they cannot be controlled or even be predicted. Adversities are part of life, and to attempt to live without them is nearly impossible. That is why the best way to respond to adversity is to learn how to become more resilient.
Resilience is not just about the strength of a person’s will to weather challenges. It is also about the strength of mind and his or her ability to see objectively in times of tremendous pressure or pain. Sober-mindedness allows us to take the necessary steps to move forward after going through or while going through a difficult time. Being of sober mind doesn’t mean we ignore the facts, but it helps us assess what is in front of us and what the possible courses of action are.
5. You will have a more restful soul in a time of unrest.
Going through the pandemic made me realize how restless I truly am. Though my wife always views me as someone who is calm and keeps his composure under pressure, I cannot help but admit that I have a certain degree of restlessness. There are many effects of restlessness, and one of them is the inability to make sound and rational decisions.
Sober-mindedness does not only help you identify the things that you can and cannot control, it also points you to the One who is in control. It does not mean that you’ll be detached from your responsibilities and legitimate concerns of life or that you would no longer be affected. What it means is that despite the weight of your responsibilities and concerns, you can still find rest for your soul.
Charles Spurgeon, one of the most influential preachers in England, said: “The sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which the child of God rests his head at night, giving perfect peace.”
May we grow in sober-mindedness in these difficult times so that we may live a life of purpose and peace.