Give Me Self-discipline, Lord!

A well quoted verse is 2 Timothy 1:7. The well known part of the verse is this:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear!”

I have quoted this to myself and others for years — even decades. But, today it came to me with fresh eyes and revelation. Let’s look at the context surrounding this verse:

6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  7For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

The way to overcome fear is by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God — God’s Spirit. He dwells in everyone who has put their lives and hearts into the hands of Jesus through faith. The person who trusts Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, to remove their sin is regenerated, or made spiritually alive. We died with Christ to our flesh and sin, and were raised to life when he rose from the dead.

Our sin stayed in the tomb and we were raised in power.

The power of Jesus fills us — Jesus himself! We are in him and he is in us. This is not a slow raising, as you try to work your way to God. You cannot raise yourself from the dead. God raises the spiritually dead in an instant and fills them with power. If you have not put your faith in Jesus and experienced his resurrection power, do so today my friend!

He calls us to a new life, not to walk in the ways of death and sin. He calls us to resurrection and he fills us with himself. In fact, he clothes himself with us! We are the children of God and his Spirit lives in us. So, what do we have to fear?

Death? Sickness? The Devi? Loss of income? Persecution? The future? Nothing can separate us from the love of God we have in Christ Jesus. He walks with us through the fire.

And yet, we are still in our bodies of the flesh. We experience life surrounded by temptations and fearful events. But, in this passage, Paul reminds Timothy to “fan into flame the gift you received upon the laying on of my hands.” What was that gift? The Holy Spirit and all that he brings was in Timothy. Timothy was a young pastor charged with leading a church of people much older than him. It was an intimidating experience. How could he do it? How could he handle all his overwhelming responsibility? The answer is easy, Paul says — by fanning into flame the work of the Holy Spirit.

What is the result? This is the part I read with new eyes today.

Love. Power. Sound Mind.

In the NIV it translates “Love, power and self discipline.”

How does the Holy Spirit help me?

When someone is difficult to forgive or love, if I choose to try in my own efforts I will fail to love them well. I will be self-focused and fixed on my own pitiful state. But, when I prayerfully and worshipfully give this relationship to Jesus, asking the Holy Spirit to fill my relationship, and helping me to forgive, he does! My self-discipline and love comes from the Lord.

When I feel powerless in the face of a situation with a child who needs a heart change, my best efforts may fail, but in prayer I can call on the Lord to change the child’s heart and he will intervene!

When I struggle with food temptation and eating healthy and want to give up or be lazy, I can commit my healthy eating and exercise to the Lord and ask for the Spirit-filled self discipline that I need to overcome. I can ask him to teach me the best way to be healthy for me. He knows my body type. He knows my schedule. He will help me. I experienced this deliverance when I was young, but am needing a refocus, now that I am in the middle of life. The Lord can help me overcome my weaknesses by his Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is not far away. He is close to me. He is in me. He is the Spirit of Jesus. You can feel the closeness and power of the Holy Spirit, too, by fanning into flame your gift. Give him the focus. Ask him to fill you with love, power and a sound mind. Worship the Lord, don’t worship your inadequacies.

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