What God has given you
In last week’s post, I ended with a question…
“What will your foundation be this week? Fear or faith?”
Thinking back over the past week, have you found yourself feeling fretful? Have you reminded yourself to fan into the flame the precious gift of faith you have been given?
Speaking of what we’ve been given, I mentioned last week that I wanted to finish the portion of text we started by looking at- verse seven of 2 Timothy 1 in today's post:
“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
I had to make the whole verse bold because every single word in it is important.
Let’s start with what God hasn’t given us. ‘Not a spirit of fear…’ This was a bit of a jolt and a wake-up call for me to be honest. Yes, it’s normal to have a few nerves here and there in the face of a tense situation. But constantly living in a state of anxiety, ‘what if’, and self doubt? It’s a lie! It’s not been given to us by God. In fact the Greek word for ‘spirit’ there is ‘pneuma’, which is often referred to as ‘breath’. Other translations of this word indicate that pneuma also translates as ‘the rational soul’ and ‘mental disposition’. That makes sense in our current context doesn’t it? God hasn’t given us a mental disposition of fear. It’s not a state we’re constantly supposed to live in by our Heavenly Father’s standards.
This therefore begs the question, if God has not assigned us a spirit of fear, who or what has?
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not somebody who will immediately suggests that everything negative we face is the result of spiritual attack. Sometimes things happen, people make mistakes etc. We live in a fallen world after all. But I do think that, as believers, we must be careful. The Bible makes it clear that it’s not just flesh and blood alone which we battle against.
Don’t allow fear and anxiety to take root and settle for longer than it’s welcome.
Whenever there’s a ‘but’ in scripture after something hefty like what we’ve just unpacked, I breathe a sigh of relief.
‘…but of power and love and self-control.’
Yes, sometimes fear can overstay its welcome, yes we can sometimes become irrational in the face of anxiety… BUT GOD. Hallelujah!
So, what has God given us? Spoiler alert- it trumps anything the enemy tries to present us with.
1. Power- Now the word power in and of itself is already quite, well… powerful. But again, going to the Greek word (dunamis) it’s even better than that! Translated, we find words like ‘force’ and ‘specifically miraculous power’.
Unpacking words like this in more depth remind me of passages like 1 John 4:4 which ends with the words:
“…for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
People, we have the miraculous power of God inside of us! The Bible makes that clear. And that’s what He’s given us. Not only that, but also…
2. Love- God’s love is perfect. And again, looking at 1 John 4, we read verses like verse 18 which tells us that perfect love casts out all fear. God does not want to punish us. He loves us. A continued state of fear and anxiety is not given to us by our ever loving God.
3. Self-Control- Lastly, there’s a little bit of work for us to do here with these words. God has given us self control. This is pretty challenging because it means that whenever I’ve said ‘I can’t help it’ in the face of being offered some form of junk food when I’m trying to be healthy, I probably could have…
All jokes aside, self control is akin to being ‘restored to one’s senses’. We can all have those ‘what did I just do?’ moments. We’re human. The point is that we don’t live there. We’ve been given self control by God and there are times when we need to put that into practice. We need to rebuke that thought, those words, that action, in the name of Jesus. There is power in His name!
Just like being disciplined in anything else, there may be a sense in starting small. When trying to do more exercise to get healthier, you’re not going to start with a marathon.
What small steps can you take in overcoming fear and anxiety TODAY? I hope the passages we’ve unpacked together over the past two weeks will help you make a start.