I have heard, as have you, countless sermons and quoting of verse 7. Usually in the context of a doctor’s diagnosis, a letter from a bill collector, a lawyer or an ex-employer.
We like to stand on the verse that God has not given us a spirit of fear. And indeed, He has NOT! Some translations say God has not given us a spirit of “timidity”. A recent reading of that translation offended me because the debilitating fear that Satan attacks me with is much more severe than timidity. So I took a deeper look into the context of this scripture and heard a different message.
Paul, writing from a jail cell, in the final months of his life, is speaking to his dear friend, “son”, Timothy. It is his second letter and he begins by reminding Timothy of his heritage of faith. Then he launches into instruction. Verse 6 indicates that Timothy has a ministry to fulfill, a calling of God. Presumably to spread the gospel although specifics are not mentioned. After reminding Timothy of his “gift” which he should “fan into flame”, Paul tells him that he should not have a spirit of fear. This is particularly applicable since Timothy must be thinking, look where your gift got you. (That’s what I’m thinking.)
This must be why so many translations use “cowardice, timidity” instead of the word “fear”. Satan uses fear in many forms but all of them are to stop the work of the Lord.
As I’m thinkin’ ’bout this today, I am boldly aware of a calling on my life, a move God has asked me to make that frightens me. I am timid about approaching those whose help and guidance I need for this task. But I hear God saying, He has given me power, I have everything I need for this task. He loves me enough to offer me this opportunity and trust me with this task. And as for “self-discipline”, ie: ” sound judgment, wise discretion,” that got me up at 5:30 AM to write this.
Thinkin’ bout a nap.