Right now the question “Are you afraid?” relates to the current Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s a question that can be asked in many situations. I’m not going to ask you the question, but I know some are afraid. I don’t know that I’m afraid, but at my age, and with diabetes, I am well aware of the need to be aware and alert.
I have not counted for myself, but I’ve always heard that the instruction “Fear not” is in the Bible 365 times. Does that mean that to be afraid is a sin? My definitive answer is “yes” and “no.” Fear is not always a sin, but it can be.
While he was writing in a different time and under different circumstances, Paul’s reminder to Timothy in II Timothy 1:7 is applicable to Christians today, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline”(NIV).
Note Paul affirms that God gave the same spirit to both Timothy and himself. My sense is that he is speaking of the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to everyone who determines to follow Jesus. That means, I think, that Christians today can claim that God’s Spirit does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
The word translated timid in the New International Version is the only place it is used in the New Testament. Other translations render the phrase “a spirit of fear” or “a spirit of cowardice.” The New Living Translation covers two bases with “a spirit of fear and timidity.”
So God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but he gave us a spirit of power and love and self-control. What is a spirit of power? It doesn’t mean power in the way we usually understand it, but rather strength of character to “go boldly forward” (NT scholar Donald Guthrie).
What is a spirit of love and self-control? It means that the power (or strength) God gives us is to be used in the guidance of love and under self-control. While some use the word enabling, I don’t because of the negative connotation is sometimes has. My preference is the word empower. If we take advantage of the spirit God has given us, he will empower us to deal with fear (I don’t believe we will always be free of fear) and help us live the way he has called us to live.
That’s what I’m trying to do and what I encourage you to do as well.
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Bob, Once again your message reminds me of Gods grace to me in all aspects of my life as I am sure it does to others as well. Your message will calm many hearts. Thank you. You hit that chip shot right at the flag.
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Thank you for this Bob at times it is hard not to worry that is for sure! I am just glad for God’s grace and am praying we will all come through this ok. Moss you and Jan stay safe!!
I believe a spirit of fear and being afraid are not the same – one is a state being the other is a response to each situation – I do not live my life afraid that I will be burnt by a stove however I am afraid that if I don’t take the proper precautions I will burn myself – one is living in fear the other is being informed by natural fears
I think in my walk with God I am not afraid of eternal punishment because I am saved but I would say that knowing what awaits those who are not saved informs me to avoid not following God – I do not live in a state of fear but rather a healthy fear of things to be avoided
I think that too often we make the God given emotion of fear that instructs us to approach with caution into a sin rather than the spirit of fear, living life afraid that God is not powerful enough to protect us in life and in our death
just my 2 cents
Thanks Bob. As always encouraging and instructive. Are you and Jan OK. We’re fine here in Camarillo. Staying home and learning all kinds of new things about marriage and basic survival. Best to you and Jan and your kids and grandkids. C
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Thanks for this Bob. Our natural selves tend to be afraid of what we don’t know. Thankfully, by God’s grace, we don’t have to rely on our own strength, but be confident that His is sufficient for us no matter what enemy we are facing, including this present evil called COVID-19. God is trustworthy and faithful. He loves us and delights in us. He is for us, not against us.
Dear Pastor Bob, Thank you for your column. Hope you & Jan and your family are okay. My family’s okay but I just learned my brother in law lost 3 peoe he knows in NY, theypassedfrom the C-19. Sad 4 him. I talked to my psychologist for 45 minutes on the phone yesterday, ( no office visits till??????who knows…) she told me to vent what I want to vent, then add this too will pass and be positive……yeah sure Doc…..but I am trying, Doc Mink. I miss you, buddy. Take care. Say hi to Jan. All in, Art & Deb Murphy