First Baptist Church
233 S. Main, Cedar Springs
We are indeed living in a time in which fear seems to be an everyday reality for many people. It could be a fear of uncertainty, of those who intimidate, of government, of health related issues, of economic unknowns, and the list goes on. Fear tends to create a fight or flight mindset and, for some, a paralysis to do nothing. Many years ago, one of my drill instructors told us there was nothing wrong with being afraid; just don’t allow it to paralyze you from doing your duty! Courage has been defined as the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation.
I’m reminded of Paul’s words to a young man and pastor named Timothy in which he shared, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV). Fear can be an incredibly intimidating influence in the lives of people. Note that God does not tell us that fear is wrong, for fear can also be an incredible motivator as well. The word used here is one that suggests cowardice or a timidity that would prevent us from doing the task(s) before us. At this time in history, the church was suffering incredible persecution from Rome to submit to emperor worship. Young Timothy was under indescribable pressure and Paul’s words were specific—do not allow fear to paralyze you from carrying out your responsibilities!
In fact, Timothy, God has given you three assets that will enable you to hang in there and do your work. Three assets that are available to us to this very day—power, love, and a sound mind. The word for power here is the same word from which we get our English word for dynamite. It is a reminder to us that where God has called us to serve, He has also given us the power or strength to do the tasks expected of us. One of the hard lessons learned in USMC boot camp is that you can go a whole lot further than your mind thinks that it can. We have become a culture that quits way too early and is often unwilling to work hard for what’s important, and that includes through the hard knocks in life. God says, hang in there—persevere—for He will enable us to do His work.
The second concept of love is also one that is often misunderstood. The word used here is one that reflects an unconditional love, or a love in spite of. This is not based on how others treat me, or whether my expectations are being fulfilled, or for what I can get out of it! If we really understood the meaning of this kind of love that we are to have for one another, the divorce rate would take a serious dive. I’m convinced that if we were to love God the way we are supposed to (1 Jn. 4:19), the relationships we have with others would be positively & profoundly affected (1 Cor. 8:1; Rom. 12:10).
And the final asset of a sound mind reflects how the precious two assets of power and love were to be exercised, specifically – with wisdom and good judgment. Power without love can be harsh, and love without power can be pointless & weak. The word used here suggests self-discipline is to be an integral part of being courageous & persevering through the tough times!
Embrace your fear and learn to use it to motivate you to draw closer to the Lord. For we are totally dependent upon Him for the strength, love & discipline we need to be overcomers in situations of intimidation, uncertainty & danger! “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Rom. 8:37 (ESV)