1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”
When people are without Jesus and his light, it is night time for them. They are in darkness. They are spiritually asleep, totally unaware of the love and goodness God has for them. Or, they are spiritually drunk. In the darkness they don’t realize the shame of their sin, and they feel it’s okay to indulge themselves.
Don’t be like that, Paul says. We belong to the day. We know Christ. We know his love. We trust him and trust his word. We know that sin hurts. We know that God’s commands take care of us. It’s not that we have to keep them to earn his favor and save ourselves. We have “seen the light,” and faith in Jesus leads us to want a different kind of life.
My wife, used to subscribe to a newsletter called The Tightwad Gazette. It was published by a lady who developed all kinds of ways for living on a small budget. Then she started sharing her ideas with others. Over the years she made a small fortune selling her newsletter and books, and appearing on talk shows. When asked if she would stop living so frugally and pinching her pennies now that the money was flowing in, her reply was “No. After learning to live the smart way, why would I want to go back to living the stupid way.” It’s not just a matter of making ends meet any more. It’s a smarter way to live.
As sons of light, we are still tempted by sin. We still stumble and fall. But the light of faith, the light of Christ in us, produces a different kind of life. It changes our view, so that we want to live the smart way, the godly way–not because we have to, not to save ourselves, but because it is better.
And so, “…let us be…self-controlled.” We show that we are the kind of people ready for the day of the Lord when we are not carried away by every desire, every urge, every hunger, every appetite, every emotion that we feel.
And put on “faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” A breastplate covers the heart. God wants to cover our hearts, to protect them from falling away and losing his gifts. He tells us to put on faith and the love which it produces to keep this from happening. But how do we put on faith? “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ,” Paul tells us in Romans 10:17. This is why hearing God’s word regularly, even daily, and attending worship is so important for our Christian life.
A helmet covers the head. God wants to cover our minds so that we don’t forget the real point of Jesus’ work for us. He tells us to put on the hope of salvation. Sometimes people say that Christians are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. God is more concerned that that we not become so earthly minded that we are no heavenly good.
Keep looking to the future, ponder the wonder and the joy of the heavenly home God has prepared for you. This hope, together with faith and love, will keep you prepared for the new day the Lord is bringing.