“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Second Timothy 1:7
John Knox, Scottish reformer, was not held in the highest favor by Queen Mary, known as Bloody Mary. One day on his way to the court, he was warned that it might be better to postpone his visit as she was in an angry mood. He kept right on going, replying, “Why should I be afraid of a queen when I have just spent three hours with God?”
John Knox drew a comparison between spending time with God and then facing his time with the queen. Obviously, Knox was not afraid of Queen Mary. John Knox struggled with a lot of things over his lifetime, but fear of kings and queens was not part of his history. Knox was no foreigner to persecution for the gospel sake. Knox taught the sons of a number of Protestants who had captured St. Andrews Castle (1546). In the summer of 1547 French warships attacked the castle. Knox was taken prisoner, kept aboard in one of the ships, and forced to row it in chains with other galley slaves. After 19 months however, he was set free and went to England where Archbishop Cranmer was working to promote the Reformation. He was then appointed as a preacher in Berwick. John Knox made his way back to Scotland and in doing so became minister (pastor) of Saint Andrews Church. Knox continued preaching for the rest of his life and died in 1572. When he was buried, it was said, “Here lies a man who in his life never feared the face of man.”
Oh, to be that fearless in the face of real fear. Fear can be defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. I have known those who had or still have a real fear of needles. The medical experts call it Trypanophobia. Generally, it is described as an extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles. Apparently, I might even have a touch of this type of fear. Every year I go to the local VA clinic to get my pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine for the winter season. And as it turns out, the nurse who gives me the shot tells me to relax my shoulder muscle just before she gives it to me. I tense up without realizing it. I honestly don’t know what my problem is (or I do and I just don’t want to admit it), because when they draw blood once a year, I have no problem with that, as I like watching the phlebotomist draw the blood. Apparently, I am more complicated than I thought 😊 But, the truth is, we all have those things in our life that trigger fear in us…real fear.
The Apostle Paul had to remind Timothy that a spirit of fear does not come from God. A spirit of fear can come from a number of sources but one of those sources is not God. The fear that Paul writes about here in Second Timothy is described by MacArthur as one that is timid, cowardly, shameful fear that is generated by weak, selfish character. MacArthur goes on to say, “The Lord is never responsible for our cowardice, our lack of confidence, or our being shameful of Him.”
As we continue to face new challenges everyday due to an everchanging medical, economic, social landscape, we too can develop a spirit of fear. We can become timid in what we say about who God is and what His expectations are of His people. We can become cowardly in our approach to evangelism, staying silent in our weakness, and selfish in the midst of divine blessings. Yet, we know that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
I wish my only struggle was with needles. But as I watch the nightly news, as I read news papers online, as I do life in what I call the “New America,” (Actually, what is going on in our country is not new, it’s just seems like it. (Check out the 1968 riots in Chicago) I realize that the spirit of fear can and will take over if I forget one very important thing. That one thing is, God has given us something greater than all our fears, He has given us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind.
The divine resources that God has given is sufficient for all of life, no matter what we are experiencing. If I am going to rely on my human resources to do life in this New America I am going to become paralyzed by a spirit of fear. I will go on to suffer from lack of confidence, loss of direction, and in the process my service to Christ will be severely hindered, if not eliminated. So, what can we do in order to stop the spirit of fear from raising its ugly head in our hearts and minds?
IS JESUS CHRIST SUFFICIENT? I know some may think I am oversimplifying my trust in Jesus Christ, but is He or isn’t He sufficient power for what we are all facing today? If God has supplied us with the resource of His power to accomplish His will in our life, if this power is the same power that raised Christ from the dead, how is it not enough, not sufficient enough to live like Christ in this New America? Our circumstances might change, our personal income, employment, neighborhoods, and the way we do church and school might change or change more. But the power source supplied to us through our great God hasn’t change and we can still act Christ-like to this fallen world around us.
And what about the spirit of love? Have we been supplied with a lesser amount of God’s love than His power? I can tell you with all the backing of Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit that the love of Jesus Christ is more than sufficient to wipe out the hate and division that has ingulfed this nation. The Apostle Paul tells us that “love suffers long and is kind… doesn’t behave rudely.” A spirit of fear is rude but the spirit of love is enduring and demonstrates kindness.
And lastly, what about the spirit of a sound mind? The spirit of a sound mind is a mind that is disciplined, and is proven through a life lived in self-control. A spirit of discipline will guard the mind against thinking that leads to negative actions. When the people around you lose control of their tongue, you are able through a spirit of discipline hold yours in check. When finances are tight the spirit of discipline takes over and you think of solutions rather than fixing blame on someone. Having a sound mind tells me we should pursue sound judgement. Sound judgement will lead to prioritizing, placing things in its right perspective, its right order. A sound mind will keep us from being fixated or obsessed with one thing at the expense of our peace and joy.
When we replace our sufficiency in Christ with a spirit of fear we lose our ability to be image bearers of Christ. When we stop bearing the image of Christ in our life, we lose the one distinction that separates us from the rest of the world…Christ in us. These are just some things think on as we head into another month.This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN wishing you Joy in Jesus!