The words etched themselves into my brain.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
The spirit of fear has often been my companion. Lurking. Crippling. Gripping. Paralyzing. Suffocating. Gracious, I have known that emotion.
Fear has gripped me most when I made a decision to take a new path. When I stood at the edge of the woods, the path looming before me–misty and filled with clinging branches and thorn bushes and tree roots. Fear taunted me when I wondered how I could take that next step, achieve that goal, talk to that person about Christ, accomplish my to-do list. Fear swarmed my thoughts as I looked ahead to the future.
Humans are afraid of many things. We fear tangible things, such as:
- public speaking (glossophobia)
- heights (acrophobia)
- spiders (arachnophobia)
- snakes (ophidiophobia)
- flying (aerophobia)
We fear the intangibles:
- failure (atychiphobia)
- being alone (monophobia)
- commitment (gamophobia)
We even fear things like
- balloons (globophobia)
- cats (ailurophobia)
- and my favorite, long words (hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia–is this for real?)
I have read 2 Timothy 1:7 before and found comfort. But as I read it again the other day, the words seemed to burn themselves into my mind more deeply. The verse said God was giving three things to me–power, love, and a sound mind. Instead of fear, three gifts. Although I knew the basic definitions of the words, I wanted to dissect them more. I checked a few dictionaries and found the following.
The first gift God gives to me is power.
Merriam-Webster defines power as the “ability to act or produce an effect; physical might; mental or moral efficacy.” The American Heritage Dictionary further defines it as the “effectiveness at moving one’s emotions or changing how one thinks.”
Instead of fearing, I have the power to act. I have the mental efficacy to move my emotions or change how I think. Fear may try to cripple me, but I have power over fear. I do not have to be paralyzed. I can “do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).
The second gift God gives to me is love.
Merriam-Webster states that love is a “warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion.” Love is further defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as “a strong feeling of affection and concern toward another person, as that arising from kinship or close friendship; a feeling of devotion or adoration toward God.”
The definition of love made me think of another verse in 1 John 4. Verse 18 speaks of love casting out fear.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
Is it possible that my love for God could grow, obliterating any fear? Is the answer not having more courage, but having more love toward God? The verse implies that I am not made perfect in love if I am fearing.
A Sound Mind
The third gift God gives to me is a sound mind.
This phrase is defined in Merriam-Webster as “free from injury or disease; showing good judgment or sense.” The American Heritage Dictionary also defines this as “free from defect, decay, or damage; levelheaded; secure or stable.”
I am always interested in verses that speak of being stable or established. I often struggle with my emotions, but 2 Timothy 1:7 says I can be levelheaded, secure, stable.
This verse also indicates that having “a sound mind” means I am not showing signs of defect or decay or disease. And fear can be a disease that infects the mind, causing decay and damage.
The thought that pushed itself to the forefront of my mind was this: I do not have to ask for power, love, or a sound mind. God already has given them to me, and I can access them today.
The question is, will I receive them as gifts from Him?