What God Has Not Given Us
by David Diestelkamp
“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).
We talk a lot about what God has given us in Christ, but we don’t think as much about what God has not given us.
We might wonder what the point would be since God hasn’t given it. So we don’t have it; so what? However, the point is that we are to accept, embrace, and live what God has given — so the converse is also true; we are not to accept, embrace, and live what God has not given!
In the context of 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul is reminding Timothy to “stir up the gift of God which is in you” (1:6). “Be all you can be” and “Serve God with your all” is what he’s writing.
What could stifle that? Fear!
God Has NOT Given Us A Spirit of Fear
Yassar Arafat was a leader of several Islamic nationalist groups which influenced Arab countries from the 1960s to about 2000. He was accused of masterminding Middle East violence and terrorism. A man tells of meeting Arafat and talking about Jesus. He was surrounded by heavily armed men at an undisclosed location. He said he didn’t know if he would live or die. Some present tried to stop him, yet he continued. Arafat silenced those who interrupted. Arafat was kind and appreciative and continued contact afterward. When asked about being scared, the man said he wasn’t afraid. He said, “If I died, what better way to go to the Lord?”
What would fear have done to the above story? Sometimes what we call “political correctness,” “tact,” and “taking it slowly” is really just fear on our part.
In order to “stir up the gift of God which is in you,” we are going to have to stop being afraid. Fear causes reluctance. It causes us to hide our lights.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Our spirit is the thinking, reasoning, choosing part of us. It’s that part of us that makes us what we are: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).
That inner part of us is not afraid because God has recreated our spirit to not contain fear — fear is contrary to its nature. God has not simply emptied our spirit of fear, He has replaced it with a spirit that doesn’t contain fear. He has crowded fear out by giving us a spirit “of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
God HAS Given Us…
Power — We aren’t afraid like other people because God has given us not a spirit of fear but a spirit “of power.” Thayer’s Lexicon tells us that this word has the idea of “strength, ability, power”; and then he says, “power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature.” When we plug this into 2 Timothy 1:7, we see that the power to overcome fear doesn’t reside in our own abilities. We don’t fear because God changes our inner person and the inner person He creates in us is not by nature fearful. It is by nature strong, able, and powerful!
Do we open ourselves up enough in faith for God to change us at this level? What, that God asks of us, can we not do if our spirit is 100% of God and for God?
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Love — It’s easy to welcome the spirit of love God gives us, but we may fail to recognize how it removes fear and motivates action. Having a spirit of love means more than not hating. It moves us to do positive acts of love. We love God and others because who we are has changed and there is now no place for hatred in us. When our spirit is given us of God and is “of love,” our thoughts and actions will follow!
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
A Sound Mind — Disciples of Christ aren’t crazy. We haven’t abandoned reason. We are clear thinking and self-controlled. We don’t live in fear, not because we avoid all fearful situations, but because we remain clearheaded even in intense situations; and we know something that fearful-spirited people don’t know. We know that we don’t live for this life. We know our hope is based on infallible truth and the guaranteed promises of God. Nothing can shake our spirit to divert attention from the Author of our faith or separate us from His love. What fear could intimidate a spirit like this?
“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
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