For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self- control.2Ti 1:7
In the English language, when I talk about spirit I could mean alcohol, a daemon, an angel, the Holy Spirit, a mindset, or a common denominator bonding people. Maybe even temper, nature, disposition, or the soul. See here what I think a spirit is.
Equally broad connotations for the word are known in many other languages, like German, Hebrew, and Greek. The Greek word pneuma can stand for wind, breath, life, body, soul, ratio, nature of something, nostrils, mouth, character, and many more. We need the Spirit to decide what the word spirit means in each and every situation – and then, at times it is not so important, as many translations bring the verse to life in different situations.
Our verse today is one of them.
It can be translated and understood to mean that God has not given us “a daemon of panic or phobia” as well as “a character of a coward”. This article tells you my opinion on that.
You know what panic is. If not, you either are very lucky or have grasped the truth of this verse.
Panic shuts down our frontal lobe, our cerebrum – the first mainly responsible for acting in an adult fashion, while the second is both our creative as well as logic thinker. In a panic attack, the stem brain takes over. All it knows is fight or flight. Hormons flush the body, and we are in automatic mode. Depending on our character, we either attack, play dead man, or run. Certainly no self-control! Fear, even in form of an irrational phobia or an actual daemon, has the power to influence all of our being. Whether it originates in the emotions, thinker, or our spirit, it involves all of us, even the body.
God has given us a spirit of power to overcome, of love, as perfect love drives out all fear, and of self-control even in those situations.
But many times it’s not about panicking or reacting to a phobia.
Many times we just do not dare to act. We feel unprepared, we think we do not measure up, and most of the times we are afraid to fail.
In a culture that teaches that making mistakes is bad – remember the grades in school – we more and more loose the boldness and willingness to make a fool of ourselves. Of course, it is only possible in such a culture that failing equals making a fool of ourselves.
If a culture is celebrating failure as a wonderful opportunity to learn, why shouldn’t I fail? And I do not mean management speak here, where problems are challenges and to fail is to learn – and if you learn from a challenge you are given new opportunities (that is: if you fail to solve a problem, you are fired). I mean a true caring and empowering environment that supports you in case of failure as well as in case of success. An environment that does not hide failure, but uses it to change not only the one failing, but help many others as well.
Such an environment is one part of the equation for a more daring christianity, not waiting on God to do everything.
The other half is believing that God did not give us a fearful character of a coward, but a character of acting power, ability to assert, punch, love as motivation, and sound judgement. A mind aligned with God, renewed as we are told in Romans 12:2, can surely bring sound judgement to situations. Which is more of the kind “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” than “help, God, act and change this situation for me”.
So, be no coward! Judge the situation in the light of who’s in you, let yourself be motivated by love just as Jesus was on the way to the cross, which he endured for the prize that lay behind it (you and me), and act in the power and authority given to you. Use your punch!