“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord.”
2 Timothy 1: 7-8a (NIV)
God did not give believers a spirit that is timid or fearful. Satan knows that. When believers remember that they have been given a spirit of power, love, and discipline, Satan shudders because he know what he’s up against – Fire!
Fan the Flame
In his letter to Timothy, Paul encouraged him to ‘fan into flame’ the gift of God (see 2 Timothy 1:6). Paul did this because he knew Satan fights with fire. So we must fight Satan’s fire with a fire of our own. God’s gift was delivered in a mighty way on the day of Pentecost. With the sound of a violent wind and the appearance of tongues of fire, the gift of the Holy Spirit arrived. This fire turned Jesus’ disciples from discouraged, shaken men into powerful witnesses who poured into the streets preaching the Good News in many languages. Thousands were saved (see Acts 2:1-41)! It is this same fire that we too as believers have received. This fire contains the power, love, and discipline that strikes fear into Satan. But only if we use it!
When firefighters are battling wildfires, they often have to set ‘backfires’ to stop its progress and ultimately extinguish it. So it is when we are fighting the fires of disbelief, apathy, and untruth set by Satan. Our backfires are our testimony to the truth, empowered by the fire of the Holy Spirit. And Jesus commanded us to light them, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19a)
A Spirit of Power
The very power that created the universe, that raised Jesus from the dead, that empowered His disciples to witness to crowds in languages they didn’t even know, is the same power that dwells in each believer in the person of the Holy Spirit. (see Ephesians 1:19-22, Acts 2:1-41) Enough said!
A Spirit of Love
Witnessing to non-believers is an act of utmost love. Though we may hear many arguments to the contrary, such as, “Who are you to tell me what I believe is wrong?” or “Who are you to force your beliefs on me?” Christian believers who take their call to witness to others seriously, may often be called out as intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded — not descriptions associated with a loving nature. Let’s clear this up by using this analogy: If we were to see someone running toward the edge of a cliff, what should we do? We should do anything we can to stop them. That would be a loving thing to do, wouldn’t it? Of course! Simply standing by while they run off the edge and plunge to their death would be a hateful thing to do. Would it matter that this person did not believe that a cliff edge was there? No! Should we allow them to continue along in their belief or should we tell them the truth before it is too late? A Christless eternity separated from God is a horrible, terrible fate. Jesus Himself described it as ‘outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (see Matthew 24:51).’ It is like running off an eternal cliff edge. We are called to use the spirit of love to warn non-believers that the cliff is there and that Jesus is The Way to keep from tumbling over its edge. To do anything less would be hateful, indeed!
A Spirit of Discipline
Witnessing is not often easy. Christian witnesses face skepticism, confrontation, and hate. Some witnesses in extreme situations are ostracized, face violence, or even death. Jesus told us it would be so (see John 15:18-19). It is much easier to avoid such unpleasantness. Thus, we can see that the easy way out is the way of timidity. Discipline is the ingredient that allows us to do what is loving and right when easier, more expedient options are available. Even better is that the spirit of discipline God gives us allows us to draw upon His very power to do what is loving.
“A” vs. “The”
God did not give us a spirit that is timid. So let’s not act like He did! God not only gave us ‘a’ spirit of power, love, and discipline to witness with, He gave us ‘The’ Spirit of Power, Love, and Discipline. Let’s use it to fulfill all that we are called to do in our time on this earth: “Love God, and love our neighbor.” Our testimony to the truth we have come to know is our loving gift to a dark and hurting world, filled with hurting people. That’s the truth.
I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God. For you have not been given a timid spirit. You have been given the Holy Spirit! You have been given the Spirit of Power. You have been given the Spirit of Love. You have been given the Spirit of Discipline. You are called to use this gift of God to testify about your Lord.
©2009 Dan Buckhout
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Internatonal Bible Society.
Used by permission of International Bible Society.