Monday, 5 March 2018
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Paul now explains the previous statement he made to Timothy which said, “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you.” The word translated here as “fear” is a noun found only this once in the Bible. It signifies timidity or cowardice. Its corresponding adjective signifies someone who would be fainthearted, and thus falling short in following Jesus as the Lord. Paul is encouraging Timothy, not rebuking him. He is saying in essence, “God hasn’t given us a spirit of cowardice. You will face many great challenges in your duties, but He has given you a spirit of the ability to handle them.”
This same thought must transfer to all Christians. When we have a fear of displeasing others, we are not demonstrating that which is of God. If there is, for example, a moral issue which is presented for the Christian to stand on, they are to stand on that without wavering.
Next, Paul contrasts the “spirit of fear” with one “of power.” The word is closely connected to having a sense of boldness. It reflects the ability to overcome difficulties and obstacles which one is bound to face, such as persecution and confrontation.
Paul further defines the spirit we have been given as “of love.” In 1 John 4, it says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” Rather than fearing, we have the love of God, and that for the lost. This should be such a love that fear is cast out. We should be willing to say, as so many faithful witnesses of the past have, that our love for the gospel is so strong that we will fearlessly proclaim it. Jesus, speaking to the disciples, showed them this when he said, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” There should be a calming peace in us as we face the unknown, because in reality, our end is known. Whatever we face is simply leading us to the glory which is promised to the saints.
Finally, Paul says that the spirit we have received is “of a sound mind.” It is another word unique to Scripture which carries the idea of “self-control.” HELPS Word Studies says that it is “safe-minded, issuing in prudent (‘sensible’) behavior that ‘fits’ a situation.” Instead of being fearful and unable to meet the challenges we will face, if we rightly apply God’s instructions to our lives, we will be able to meet whatever comes our way in a wise and sensible manner.
Life application: As we look at Christians around us, many who do not demonstrate (even nearly) the qualities that are mentioned in this verse, we might question whether the words here are true or not. We may not even fit the words of the verse very well. And so, where is the disconnect? It is not in the word, but in us. It is we who have to follow through with our salvation by applying God’s word to our lives. In reading it, remembering it, and heeding it, we will then have the spirit which Paul now describes. If we don’t, we cannot blame God. He has given what is necessary for it to occur. Further, this verse is often cited by people, almost as a talisman, claiming that they have a supernatural spirit which will allow them to do anything. This is wholly unrealistic. The same people may not know their Bible at all. In carrying this verse around as a catch-all for possessing power, they set themselves up for a fall. Let us be grounded in our doctrine, and rely on what we are given in Scripture as our source of boldness, power, love, and sound thinking.
Lord God, when your word says that we have been given a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind, those words need to be taken as conditional upon our knowing Your word and rightly applying it to our lives. Help us not to claim things from Your word unreasonably, but to keep things in context. In this, we will not set ourselves up for disappointment. Help us in this O God. Amen.