“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
For God Has Not Given Us
I like the fact that the Holy Spirit reminds us of what God has not given to us. It is sad that we live in a world in which God is blamed when someone is diagnosed with cancer, when a natural disaster devastates a part of the country or when other bad things happen. James is clear, God is not the cause of the suffering that exists in our world. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13).
So God built anger into us, but He did not create us with an anger problem. He placed desire and passion into us, yet He did not create us with lust. We are born into this world pure and innocent:
- “I was once was live apart from the Law” (Romans 7:9). Paul ended up battling the sin of coveting (7:8), yet this is something that happened later on in his life. He was not born with a coveting problem.
- “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20).
- When God selected Saul as the first king of Israel, he was a humble man. It was later on that he became proud (1 Samuel 15:17 “It is not true, though you were little in your own eyes”).
- Many passages drive home the point that when people go into sin, they are becoming corrupt or corrupting themselves. They were not born corrupt (Psalm 14:3; 53:3; Zechariah 7:12).
- Even if I am surrounded by a bad environment or with bad examples, I still have the power to choose otherwise (Ezekiel 18:14 “Who has observed all his father’s sins which he committed, and observing does not do likewise”; 1 Peter 1:18; 2 Timothy 1:5).
- So if we are struggling with a sin, please do not blame God. Do not say, “God why did you make me this way?”
- The good news is that in obeying Jesus we can actually get back to the way that we were originally created before we started to make foolish choices. “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
A Spirit of Timidity
This denotes cowardice. God has no pleasure in those who shrink back (Hebrews 10:38; Revelation 21:8). If we deny Him, He will deny us (2 Timothy 2:12; Matthew 10:33). The whole tenor of the gospel is against being fearful (Revelation 21:8).
- God has not called us to a life where people get to walk all over us. We are not to be pushovers, enablers, spineless and weak. “But the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).
- God has not called us to a life in which we remain quiet in the face of evil (Ephesians 5:11). “Therefore, O king, may my advice to pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness” (Daniel 4:27).
- God has not called us to be merely “nice guys” or “well-behaved people”. We are expected to be both holy (1 Peter 1:14) and bold (Ephesians 6:19).
- There is a real danger in misinterpreting the Christian life. So many professed “Christians” are too quiet and shy about their faith. They are not involved in deep darkness, but at the same time they are very quiet about their faith.
- “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews” (John 19:38). As long as Joseph was a secret disciple, God could not use him.
- We do not have to be over the top extroverts, yet at the same time there is something wrong if we are so shy that we don’t share our faith with anyone.
- So don’t buy into the world’s lie that it is okay to be a Christian just as long as you keep your faith to yourself.
- In the context, being timid would include not using the talents and gifts that God has given to us for the spread of the kingdom (2 Timothy 1:6) and keeping our allegiance to Jesus a secret (2 Timothy 1:8).
A Spirit of Power
Might and strength, includes the power to overcome all obstacles and to face all dangers. The gospel is a powerful message (Romans 1:16; Hebrews 4:12). It is “aggressive energy in the face of difficulty, which overcomes the weakness of cowardice and enables one to work, to endure, to suffer, and to die if need be. Needed also is the spirit ‘of love’, that self-forgetting love to Christ, the church, and the souls of men, which exhorts, warns, rebukes with boldness and fidelity at whatever risk of consequences to self” (2 Timothy, Hiebert, p. 36).
A Spirit of Love
Love is not a miraculous gift and thus we should not interpret “power” or “discipline” as being miraculously given by God to the believer. These are attitudes that come from accepting the Scriptures as the truth (1 Corinthians 13:4ff). Love is also needed, for without it persecution and hardship can make us bitter, self-serving, and only concerned about saving our own lives (Matthew 24:12).
- We do have the ability to love “big”. We can love God with all our heart, and we can also love our enemies.
- We can intensely love our brethren (1 Peter 1:22).
- We can love others as Jesus loved them (Ephesians 5:1-2).
- As husbands, we can love our wives as Jesus loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).
Perfect Love Casts Out Fear
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 3:18).
The above verse has often been misused. Some have been tempted to twist it into meaning that God will not send anyone to hell, that God will not punish anyone in the end, but such is not the case. Even this very letter speaks of the doom coming upon those who do not repent (1 John 5:12). The previous verse (1 John 3:17) makes it very clear that we can only have confidence in the day of judgment if we are presently acting like Him, “As He is, so also are we in this world”. Those who are obedient (1 John 5:3), and who are walking in the light (1 John 1:7) having nothing to fear from God or in the day of judgment. Added to this, perfect love will always obey God (5:2) and perfect love will always love our brethren as we should.
A Spirit of Discipline
Self control, moderation, soundness of mind, or a sound judgment. It takes tremendous self-control to remain diligent and faithful during times of persecution. This includes controlling our thoughts and refusing to give into thoughts of fear, self-pity, anger, or jealousy. In times of hardship we must remain focused on the goal and unwilling to justify sinful actions because we are scared or hurting. Such mental soundness or sound judgment is seen in:
- The discipline to spend time regularly in the word of God.
- The discipline to spend time in prayer.
- The discipline to spend time with other Christians.
- The discipline to make good use of our opportunities and our time.
- The discipline to remember that the Lord could return at any time, and thus to be faithful and ready (1 Thessalonians 5:4).
- The discipline to remain spiritually alert and refuse to become worn down by the temporary distractions around us (1 Thessalonians 5:6).
- The discipline to put on each piece of God’s armor every day.
- The discipline to continue to test everything by the word of God.
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017