No longer slaves to fear
Paul is sitting in a prison cell, writing a letter to Timothy. He had been tortured, beaten within an inch of his life, stripped naked, shipwrecked, stoned, and starved and most likely awaiting his execution. And yet, Paul constantly and consistently focuses on God’s truth rather than his circumstances. How does Paul do this and how can we do this? 2 Timothy 1:7 points us to the how and the who: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, love, and of a sound mind” (NKJV).
If you are in Christ Jesus, then you have been given His Spirit of:
1) “Power”- translating to the Greek word ‘dunamis’. Dunamis is in God’s nature- He is omnipotent, His power is limitless and as followers of His Son, we are given this power. But… what is this power for? One word: Obedience.
When we step into what we are called to do, making “disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and when we are living exhibitions of God’s love on earth, we are given the dunamis to do so. In 2 Timothy 2:8 Paul goes on to say: “Never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord…with the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News”.
This heavenly power is made available to us through the Holy Spirit when we are walking in obedience to God, when we are proclaiming who Christ is and when we are suffering for the gospel. When we are being witnesses for Jesus this power helps us to face situations where we cannot rely on our own power because it is our own power that is so inadequate.
2 Corinthians 4:7 reads “we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves”.
Who are you relying on?
Where do you find your strength?
Do you see it as a great treasure?
2) “Love”- the Greek translation ‘agape’ refers to sacrificial and unconditional love. Agape refers to a love that God is, that God shows, and that God gives his followers through His Spirit. This love is a choice, not a feeling- a love represented by sacrifice and humility.
Our lives should be marked by agape- John 13:35 “your love (agape) for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples”. The question is, does your love for others depend on how you are feeling or does your love flow from a place of humility?
Agape always involves action - love is a verb.
“And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. We will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love” (1 John 4: 17-18).
3) “Sound mind”- the Greek translation is ‘sophronismos’ and only appears once in the New Testament. It is made up from two Greek words: ‘soos’, meaning ‘sound’ or ‘safe’ and ‘phren’, meaning ‘inner outlook, heart, mind or thought’. Together, sophronismos means: ‘an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind, to moderation and self-control’.
Life is full of challenges and uncertainty, and this often impacts our thought life, and slowly we become shaped by our fears and doubts rather than God’s truths. We can blend in with the anxious world that we live in, being pulled away from God’s truth by an undercurrent of doubt.
What takes up most of your thoughts? Is it worries about tomorrow and insecurities or is it: what is “what is true…honourable…right…pure…lovely…admirable…excellent…worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8)?
What we fix our thoughts on, and meditate on, will alter the fruit we produce. We need to constantly focus and refocus our thoughts on God’s truth in order to be effective for His kingdom and remain anchored in our identity.
REMINDER: We all experience fear at times. But the fear you feel is not from God. Fear is not of your Father. I pray that you would know that “you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). You have a Father who loves you beyond measure and who provides you with boldness and strength daily.