“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” – Vs 7 (ESV)
Here is the great apostle Paul writing to his son in the faith, Timothy. He refers to him as “my beloved child” (Vs 1). And in the first chapter of this letter Paul encourages his young disciple, telling him to “fan into flame the gift of God” (Vs 6 ) and to “not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord” (Vs 8). Paul is in prison in Rome, awaiting trial and anticipating his ultimate death. Yet in spite of his less-than-perfect circumstances, Paul is calling young Timothy to a life of perseverance for the gospel even in the face of suffering.
Paul tells Timothy that fear is not an option for a faithful servant of God. The word he uses for fear is deilia in the Greek. It refers to one who flees from battle, who is a coward or deserter. It’s the picture of a soldier who abandons his post, letting his fear get the best of him. Not exactly how a follower of Christ should be characterized. But Paul knew that this would be a temptation for Timothy, just like it is for all of us. So he reminds Timothy that he has within him the Holy Spirit of God, and as a result, he has access to inexhaustable power, love, and self-control. Left to our own devices, we will always run in the face of trials and suffering. We will fear and flee. But God has equipped us with a new source of power. The Greek word for power is dumanis and it means “strength power, ability.” It is where we get our word for dynamite. We have an incredible power available to us that is beyond anything we can produce. It is divine power. So there is no reason for us to fear and flee.
But we also have love at our disposal. Not the kind of love the world obsesses with, but agape love. Selfless, sacrificial, lay-it-all-on-the-line love that doesn’t expect anything in return. It’s the kind of love we can’t produce in our own strength, but that can only come from the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
Finally, Paul tells Timothy that the Holy Spirit makes available a new source for self-control and self-discipline. The Greek word he uses is sophronismos and it means “an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind, to moderation and self-control.” It is the ability to process your circumstances objectively, seeing them from God’s perspective instead of your own limited point of view. And as a result, you do the right thing. Instead of fleeing, your practice self-control and remain right where you are, ready to watch God work in your, around you, and through you. Instead of panicking, you pause and reflect on just how great your God is. Instead of running, you rest in the knowledge that your God is bigger than your biggest problem.
Like Timothy, you and I have been given a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. So we can stand firm against the greatest of odds. We can show love even to those who hate us. We can practce self-control and moderation even when we feel tempted to satisfy our own selfish desires. The Christian walk is not an easy one. And no one knew that better than Paul. He knew what Timothy was going to be facing in the days ahead. So he gently, but firmly reminded him to never forget the incredible resource that was within him. And that’s a message we all need to hear.
Father, think You for placing Your Spirit within me. Thank you for providing everything I need to live the life You’ve called me to live. Help me to remember that I have within me an inexhaustable source of power, love and self-control. So there is not reason for me to fear, flee, faint, or falter in my walk with You. Keep me dependent on You every day of my life. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men