I’m not sure if this verse qualifies as one of the 365 (or 366) verses that say “Fear not.” But that message is inherent in Paul’s instructions here to Timothy. I claimed this verse for an entire year. The New Living Translation says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Some translations say “sound mind.” I need them both! However, it’s the “self-discipline” that’s especially crucial for this task I’ve committed to. It was my birthday yesterday, full of warm words from friends and good family time. I used that as an excuse to skip the blog-writing, though. Not good. I’m so glad that God gives second chances (and third and fourth!) and that His mercies are new every morning.
So that, and a providential conversation tonight with a woman I admire who once spoke eloquently and fervently on the topic of fear, are the reasons I chose this verse. She pointed out that it is not enough to merely put fear away, but that we must replace it with God’s power, love, and a sound mind (or self-discipline). Good to be fearless, but even better to have the power and love and mind of Christ operating in our lives so that fear doesn’t stand a chance of returning!
Paul says to Timothy, “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” (v. 6) This is how I see it: God has freely given us these gifts – His power, His perfect love that casts out fear, a renewed mind and heart. But as with the gifts you and I received two weeks ago at Christmas, if we don’t open them, how will we be able to use and enjoy them? And not only open them, but “to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you.” Certainly, this requires effort, concentration, diligence, self-discipline.
I’m so glad that I don’t have to fear failure just because I missed one day of writing here. Instead, I will replace that specific fear by claiming the power, love, and self-discipline God gives, and will begin to “fan the flame” of His gifts. The image of a crackling, mesmerizing fireplace or a rip-roaring campfire comes to mind. I stretch out my hands and feel the warmth.