Meanderings of a Minister


Stopping Before the End

Stop

Just this morning, I was reading God’s word and came across a verse that I actually memorized years ago and quote often.  As I was thinking on this verse, I realized something I had never seen before.  Let’s see if you can see what I had overlooked time and time again:

 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. [1]

 Did you notice what I missed?  We often use this verse as an antidote or polemic against being timid, ashamed, or afraid of anyone that would oppose us or God.  We often use this as this verse as the stick to beat ourselves up with, but we fail to see that how to accomplish this monumental task is actually included in the verse.

How are we to resist being afraid, timid, ashamed, silent, or compromising the gospel?  Simply put, God has given us His Spirit and that Spirit brings power, but also brings discipline.  In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His disciples, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8[2] He promised them power, but not just any power.  He did not tell them they would be able to accomplish anything they could dream up or imagine.  This is the way this verse is promoted among the health and welfare, prosperity movement.  He said they would receive power to be His witnesses.  When would they receive the power?  When the Holy Spirit came upon them.  We know that this happened in Acts 2, at Pentecost.  We also know from 1 Corinthians 12 that this happens to every single believer at conversion.  This means that God has given us His Spirit of power to witness to Him, His Kingdom, and the shortness of time until its consummation.

There is one other part of this verse that we miss and don’t often want to talk about.  He has given us a Spirit of discipline.  What does that mean?  Put simply, it means that God has given us a “self-controlled and properly prioritized mind”.[3]  In other words, God has given us His Spirit to cause us to have a heavenly mind and a focused earthly body and life.  Both of these things will help to make sure that we do not give in to fear or intimidation.

But, how does this work?  Good question.  In order for scripture to do us any good, we have to know how to live it out and not make it a mental exercise or a surrogate experience.  When we have our minds stayed on Christ, we do not have to give in to the fear that someone might posit an argument that will cause us to be uncertain about God, His Kingdom, His Word, or His Church.  When we have our lives rightly focused through the disciplines or prayer, Bible study, fellowship with other believers, sharing the gospel with a lost world, and ministering to the needs we meet along the way, we don’t have to worry or fret about standing up for Christ “when the time comes” because we will be doing so now.  When we are saying no to sin and yes to Christ as Lord of our lives, we needn’t live in fear that we will be put to shame or rejected by God because we know that it is Him at work in us.[4]

Our problem is that many of us, if not all of us, hate discipline, and don’t witness, so we miss out on the greatest part of this verse.  We live fear instead of fearlessness.  We live in doubt instead of discipline.  We live perplexed instead of in power.  How will you live out the power of God and the disciplined life God has given you this Christmas season?


[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.

[3] MacArthur, John F., Jr. The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006.

[4] See Philippians 2:13

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