God with us - Week 14: 2 Timothy 1:7
"God has not given us a spirit of fear…"
Hands up if this is another verse you've used to bash yourself over the head with!
2 Timothy 1:7 pops up whenever I am facing challenges that fill me with fear…funny that! It's a verse that people have lovingly shared to inspire me to rely on God's strength rather than my own. I've shared it with others for the same reason, and yet it wasn't always received how I intended.
"Come on, get it together; your fear shows a lack of faith."
I know this isn't what these verses mean, but that's what we often hear when we are feeling vulnerable. It gets ripped out of context and presented as a timely reminder that we need to buck our ideas up spiritually.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
2 Timothy 1:7
These words are part of a letter penned by Paul from his prison cell in Rome. He knew he didn't have long and that the authorities were closing in on him. He'd been through so much, and despite his strong faith, things were bleak for him. The recipient was Timothy, another faithful follower of Jesus, mentored by Paul and seen as his "dear son." (2 Timothy 1:2) They had shed tears together (2 Timothy 1:4) and walked through hardship. It's within the framework of this intimate relationship that Paul writes to Timothy with words of encouragement.
There's something special about hearing a word of encouragement or advice from someone who understands what you're facing. The two experiences don't have to be identical but hearing from someone who has walked a similar path always brings me comfort. This is what I see in Paul's letter.
"We'll be okay, Timothy. God is with us."
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]."
2 Timothy 1:7
I've always focused on the first half of this verse instead of looking at the gifts waiting to be unwrapped in the second half.
The gift of power.
God gives us power through his Holy Spirit to renew and strengthen us.
The gift of love.
We spent the whole of last week reflecting on the depth of love God feels for us, a love that is willing to sacrifice someone so precious. That's the gift of love available to us every day.
The gift of self-discipline.
I acknowledge that this is the spiritual equivalent of getting a food mixer for your birthday. Still, this practical gift helps us to navigate our everyday lives and respond to situations in a way that we won't later regret. During stressful times I repeatedly need to turn to God's gift of a "well-balanced" mind.
The precious gifts given to us by God in 2 Timothy 1:7.