Terrorists attack, politicians say outrageous things, and the world sells sex. Isn’t this world terrifying for a Christian? I mean that rhetorically, of course it is! God, speaking through Paul, in II Timothy 1:7 says “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and love, and of a sound mind.” I love this verse; it is one of my favorites. I often have used this verse to help me get by in trying and difficult circumstances. Today, I’d like to break down this verse and talk about how it can help combat the anxiety and fear that often plagues the Christian.
First off, I think it’s worth noting that this verse doesn’t say that we don’t have a spirit of fear. It doesn’t tell us that spirit of fear doesn’t exist in our hearts. What it tells us is that God hasn’t given us that spirit. I think it’s fair to say, then, that we do often experience fearfulness, but we must keep in mind that it is not given from God. Although God is the Author and Creator of our whole lives, He is not the one who feeds into our minds anxiety and worry. Instead He gives us spirits of power, love, and a sound mind in order to fight fear.
Power. Power is something that everyone lusts after in one form or another. A businessman chases after power in the workplace, an athlete drives towards physical power, and a young woman desires power in her emotional life. We all want power. God gives the most important power to us, the power of doctrine and spirituality. It would not be possible to combat or overcome the spirit of fear if we were not given the spirit of power by God. With this spirit we have the strength to obtain victory over the fear that we often want to despair in. We have the power to resist the urge of sexual sins in our youth, young men are given the power to balance work and home life, and young women are given the power to raise children in this fallen world. All of these things can strike fear in our hearts if it weren’t for the power of God!
Love. Love also helps us fight fear. I don’t mean love in the sense that the world uses it. Love doesn’t mean that we sit back and let our friends and family do whatever they want, regardless of right or wrong. Love means that we care about one another enough to help them follow the laws of God, and to do our best to follow those laws ourselves as well. If we really understand love, it becomes clear why love drives out fear. If we love God first and foremost, and therefore love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we have nothing to fear! Our love for God teaches us that he holds us in His hand, and in His hand no fear can lay hold on us. With the spirit of love, we can also conquer fear.
A sound mind. Fears of this life often cause us to feel anxious or even depressed. When we focus on God, we receive from Him soundness of mind; a peace that quiets our souls and drives worries from our hearts. If you or someone you know has struggled with anxiety or depression, you probably understand what an unsettled mind looks like, and the fear that plagues it. With our focus on things heavenly, our minds become clear or sound. Often anxiety and depression causes us to ask the whys: “Why me,” “Why now,” “Why this?” But a sound mind throws fearfulness to the curb and looks with an uplifted face saying “God has not given me this spirit of fear! He has instead given me a sound mind!” And that is an incredible and beautiful feeling.
In the context surrounding this verse, Paul encourages Timothy not to be ashamed of the Gospel, since that is what fear does to us- it makes us ashamed to be children of God. With the power, love and soundness of mind that God gives us to fight the spirit of fear, we can boldly and bravely face this terrifying world in all its danger, immorality and impurity. With this power, love and soundness of mind we walk through this life without fear, but with courage to be Christians living lives of antithesis to the world around us.