The 365 Plan
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].
2 Timothy 1:7
Peppered throughout the scriptures, we hear a message spoken repeatedly by God, prophets, and angels: “Fear not.” In fact, this encouragement is found 365 times. A coincidence? I don’t think so. God wants us to know that we can trust Him every day, even in the most threatening situations or with the most difficult people.
Why does God give us the command to “fear not” so many times? Because we are so prone to let circumstances overwhelm us. When we feel out of control, our first instinct (sad to say) isn’t to trust God but to run away in fear or fight back in defiance. God reminds us, instead, to first look at Him, remember His greatness and grace, and cling to His ability to do the impossible.
Paul’s bold statement to Timothy arrests our attention like a slap in the face. He is saying, “Hey, if you’re afraid, it’s not from God. He’s the author of power, love, and right thinking. Count on it.”
So, what about you and me? What are the recurring situations when we feel threatened, out of control, or overwhelmed? In those- even those- situations, God tells us to stop, look to Him, abs listen for the assurance of His Spirit that He will guide us. If we keep focusing our attention on the problem, we’ll be afraid and act to protect ourselves, but if we turn quickly to God and reflect on His love and strength , we’ll keep trusting Him.
He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you take a close look at 2 Timothy 1:7 you will notice a contrast. The first part lists timidity, cowardice, and fear, both of which hinder us from moving forward in life. There is a vast difference between caution and thoughtful decision making and timidity which causes us to make no decisions or to run away from life’s problems or to try to hide ourselves or numb our minds so we don’t have to face the reality of the situation. There are a multitude of ways that timidity causes us to hide. Some may engage in substance abuse, alcoholism, partying, having stuff, shopping or spend all their time working. As long as they can push aside reality just for the moment, they can escape having to face their problems.
Nobody like to be called a coward but there are many who just run away or pretend everything is ok because the are afraid to push back. Many of the children of God walk in doubt, unbelief, and fear for the world and the devil has intimidated them and held them back from becoming everything that God has designed them to be. Many won’t even do the work God has called them to because they are afraid that somehow they aren’t qualified or capable. So they drift through life, never making waves, keeping a low profile, hoping to hide in the shadows. Like Gideon, they are hiding behind the wine press, trying to scrape together just enough to get by, hoping they can do so without anyone noticing. But God saw what Gideon could not see, He saw a mighty man of valor and he sent an angel to give him the news. From the ashes of fear, God raised up a warrior who would take on and defeat not only his enemies but the enemies of his people.
Fear is a crippling thing when it is in control. It’s fair to say that some fear is healthy. It keeps us from doing foolish things but left unchecked fear arrests a person and keeps them going in circles often repeating the same mistakes. Fear keeps people in the prisons of their own making, for they are afraid to break free of the restraints. Fear is a powerful tool that is often used to keep people oppressed for it plays upon their weaknesses.
Even the people of God in the Old Testament we’re often afraid of God. It seems that every time God wanted to help them He first had to calm their fears. Abraham, the friend of God had to be comforted with the words, “Be not afraid.” Moses and Joshua and David and Daniel all had to be told to not be afraid.
Paul who wrote 2 Timothy had heard the Lord speak those words to him and John on the Isle of Patmos was told to not be afraid.
It is apparent that in the fall, fear became the constant companion of the human race. Even in our world today fear is a powerful force. Many people, even the children of God walk in fear as they face situations in which they have no control or that are overwhelming, so God speaks through Paul to tell us that fear and timidity are not spirits sent by Him. We can conclude that if they didn’t come from God then they must come from the devil. God realizes that we are powerless against fear and timidity by ourselves so He gives us the spirit of power. He lets us tap into His very own power, the very same power that created the universe and all that’s in it. Because we know the power of God is unlimited then we find peace in His strength for we know there’s nothing that He can’t handle. In addition to being given the spirit of power we have been gifted also with love, the love of God. Our fear is overcome when we understand we are truly loved by God so intensely that that nothing can separate us His love. Hear those words:
“Who shall ever separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35,38-39)
The third gift that God gives to combat fear and timidity is a sound mind or a mind that gives itself to “right thinking.” How do we “think right?” Again the Bible provides an answer in Philippians:
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].
It’s easy to let our minds be filled with things that cause fear. Lord knows we’re subjected to enough from the world. But wise children of God choose to fill their mind with the things of God and with the promises of His Word.
Fear will never be absence from this world nor from our lives, but we don’t have to be imprisoned by it for God has given us weapons to combat it and to conquer it. Whatever it is that you fear, bring it to the Lord, lay it out before Him, ask Him to take it on and receive from Him those wonderful gifts of power, love and a sound mind.
Dr. John Thompson