The Spirit of Power, Love, and Self-Discipline

2 Tim 1_7

2 Timothy 1:5–10 (NLT) I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. 10 And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.

2 Timothy is Paul’s last will and testament for his young friend, Timothy, who is like a son to him.  His main concern is to encourage Timothy to live out his calling in the power of the Spirit.  While 1 Timothy focuses on the character of a faithful congregation, 2 Timothy focuses on the character of a faithful minister.

In this passage, Paul encourages Timothy to not be ashamed of his testimony.  (v. 5)  Timothy was a person with authentic faith, which he had received from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice.

You can’t underestimate the power of praying parents and grandparents  The faith that I possess today can be directly traced to the prayer of my beloved mother Carol, and my grandmother Mary.  “The earnest prayer of the righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”  (Jas. 5:16b)

Paul reminds Timothy to fan into flames God’s gift that is in you through the laying on of hands.  We often think of God’s gift as being in the realm of those who are in full-time ministry, but every Christian has a gift from God.  (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4)  If you don’t know what your gift is, there are spiritual gift surveys online that enable you to somewhat figure out what gift is yours.  Most of them will indicate what the top three gifts are indicated in your answers, or how you rate in all the gifts.  A better way to discover your spiritual gift is to get involved in ministry in the church or outside the church.  What kind of ministry do you feel called to?  What kind of ministry do you fulfilled in?  Try different ministries out and you will come to know where God desires to use you.

“Don’t be ashamed of the testimony about the Lord…”  (2 Tim. 1:8)  The Greek word for testimony or witness is marturion.  Its the word from which is derived our English word martyr.  Testimony or witness is the declaration which confirms or makes something known (Matt. 8:4; 10:18; 24:14; Mark 1:14; 6:11; 13:9; Luke 5:14).  In the NT usage, it is the witness or testimony of Christ (1 Cor. 1:6).  The meaning is that the person bases what he or she says on their own personal knowledge.

Many Christians are timid when it comes to giving their testimony.  What is this fear based upon?  If we are talking about speaking in front of a congregation, then the fear is often related to a fear of public speaking in general.  But if we are talking about sharing our witness with others with whom we already have a relationship, then I think its a fear of rejection.  We don’t recognize the power of our testimony, especially to those with whom we already have a relationship:  our friends, relatives, associates and neighbors.  It boils down to fear.  Paul says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Our witness is how we live our lives.  But to be an effective witness, eventually we must be able to speak up about what God has done in our lives.  Some people have no problem speaking to others about anything.  My son has this gift.  He never met a stranger.  You may find it hard to believe, but I had a stutter as a child.  I was shy and fearful.  And outwardly, I was standoffish.  Yet God has called me to preach.  Those whom God calls God also enables.  So God the Holy Spirit gives each of us a spiritual gift.

But even a shy person can learn how to speak about the wonderful things that God has done in one’s own life.  One of the most powerful witnesses is telling people how God is at work in your life.  In our church, we teach people to answer three questions:  Why God?  Why church?  Why this church?  The answer to these three questions can be summed up in a short (3 min. or less, in sales language, an elevator pitch) testimony which you can speak to people, your friends, relatives, associates and neighbors, as God gives you the opportunity.

Lord, help me to not be ashamed to tell others about you Lord, about the mighty works that you have done in my life.  Help me to fan into flame the gift that you have given to me.  Help me to not be fearful or timid, but to know that you have given to me a Spirit of power, love and self-discipline.  Holy Spirit, fill me afresh this morning, and strengthen me to live into the calling you have given me – first to be a disciple and witness.  Amen.

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