A Bible study through 2 Timothy
God has given us gifts, as we saw last time. However, He did not leave us to figure out to use and grow those gifts on our own. He is with us, showing us the way and empowering us to use what He has given us for His glory. After Paul encourages Timothy to fan into flame the gifts God had given, he writes the reason for the exhortation. Why Timothy should not be afraid to let his light shine brightly. Why he ought to stir up his passion into a blazing fire that can be seen by many. The reason is that God has not only given gifts, but He has also given His followers power.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
~2 Timothy 1:7
This truth Paul reminded Timothy of is applicable to us as well. For as followers of Christ, we have been given the same Holy Spirit as a helper who fills us with the same power, love, and self-control God gave Paul and Timothy. We are not alone on this journey of faith but have a divine Helper indwelling within us.
Therefore, we, along with Timothy, should not have a spirit of fear. This word fear is better translated as “timidity” or “shyness.” The Greek word is only used once in the New Testament in this verse and literally means “timidity.” So the idea here is not fear in the sense of rending one incapable of moving forward because of impending danger. Rather, it is a reluctance to act due to the fear of rejection, or nervousness about what others would think, or not wanting to cause waves or ruffle feathers.
However, Paul reminds Timothy and us that this is not the Spirit God gave us. We are not called to be timid people, concerned with other’s opinions and tip-toeing around their sensitivities. Rather, we have been given a spirit filled with power, love, and self-control.
I believe that it was no mistake that Paul listed power before love. Love is often mistaken as weak, compliant, and agreeable. However, Paul wanted to highlight the fact that Christians are not timid but bold and filled with power. We are not helpless, weak individuals ill equipped for the spiritual battle. On the contrary, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, so that gives us divine power. We can and ought to be dangerous and lethal adversaries to the enemy because we have divine power to demolish strongholds—strongholds in our own lives and in the lives of others.
The Greek word for power used in this verse literally means “force (literal or figurative); specially miraculous power (usually by implication a miracle itself).” We have been given a special miraculous power through the Holy Spirit which is a force to be reckoned with! Therefore, we should not be timid or fearful, but bold and confident.
Other definitions for this Greek word also include “ability, abundance, meaning, might, worker of miracles, power, strength.” I think the equivalent words of “abundance” and “meaning” are interesting. Not only do we have power through the Holy Spirit, but we also have the abundant life Jesus promised and meaning to life, a sense of purpose and destiny. So we not only have supernatural power and ability, but we also have abundance and meaning, strength and might. Therefore, never underestimate the power that dwells within through the Holy Spirit and fully tap into and use the gift you’ve been given.
Now that we’ve received a better picture of the power we possess, it is important to understand the other two attributes we have been given and are called to exhibit so that we do not grow arrogant, prideful, or overbearing.
While we have been given a Spirit of power of supernatural strength and dimension, we have also been given a Spirit of love that ought to temper our boldness and guide our actions and words. Love is the defining mark of Christianity. Jesus spoke about love extensively and summed up all of life’s purpose as two commands of love: love God and love your neighbor.
Love tempers our power so that we do not abuse or misuse it. Love thinks about others above oneself. It means using our resources, abilities, gifts, and time to promote and enrich the life of another. Love helps us use our gifts for others’ good, so that we do not misuse or abuse the power God has given us. Without love, power becomes toxic and dangerous.
Finally, the third attribute Paul reminded Timothy of was self-control, or as other translations put it, a sound mind. The Holy Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control. We need all three of these to faithfully run the race in front of us.
Self-control, discipline, sound mind; all of these words could be used as the English equivalent for the Greek word used in 2 Timothy 1:7. Self-control refers to self-regulation, proper management of oneself, and the ability to hold oneself to standards and meet those expectations. Discipline denotes the ability to keep oneself on task, accomplish a goal, complete a project, and persevere to the end. It also carries a sense of willingness to sacrifice and commit oneself. Highly disciplined people are structured, well organized, high impact, productive, and committed people. They don’t do things by half measure and will see things through to the end. They have endurance and fortitude to keep going even when things get tough, and they never give up.
Finally, a sound mind means exactly what is says. Christians are not insane! God gives us a soundness, rightness, and steadiness of mind. We see and perceive things clearly because of God’s enlightenment and the Holy Spirit’s teaching. By the power of the Spirit, we do not give in to erratic thoughts or unstable thinking, but are grounded in the Word and the truths and promises of God.
All three of these attributes—self-control, discipline, and a sound mind—are part of the gift God has given us through the Holy Spirit. While we do not possess these things perfectly all the time, we should see them increasingly and more abundantly in our lives. Our lives should be marked by self-control and discipline and our mind should be steady and sound in the midst of a crazy world.
In conclusion, God has fully equipped us for the race He has set before us. He has not given us a spirit of fear, timidity, powerlessness, or lack of control. Rather, He has given us the complete opposite. In Him we have supernatural power, might, and ability to do what He has placed in front of us. We have been given and called to show love that motivates us to use our power and abilities to better others and demonstrate Christ’s love. And finally, we have self-control, discipline, and a sound mind that will help us stay in the race for the long haul, finish strong, and keep our eyes fixed on the One who sustains and carries us through all of life’s challenges. By God’s grace and with His power, love, and self-control, we can run our race and fully fan into flame the gifts God has given us for His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom.
So remember this powerful little exhortation from 2 Timothy, and start living like you have power. Because you do!