"For God gave us a spirit, not of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind." 1 Tim 2:7
A few weeks ago, I shared how fear has recently been revealed to me as a stronghold in my life. And in May, I started meditating on this verse and trying to understand how to combat this spirit of fear.
I began this journey by recognizing the many, many ways that fear ruled in my life: fear of lack, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, etc. From worrying about whether my straightener was going to burn down the house to worrying about future bills and uncertain outcomes--fear had a full foothold in the door of my heart.
But lately, God has focused me on the other three components of this verse: power and love and a sound mind. I have a spirit of power: What does this look like on me? I have a spirit of love and a sound mind: What does that look like?
I mentioned a little in the last post that fear is the antithesis to faith--and faith unleashes the power of God in our life.
Ephesians 1 calls His power immeasurable toward us who believe.
When we put our faith in Jesus--in the power and the message of His finished work of the cross--it reveals to us the mystery of the gospel, the good news: that we are made righteous, that we are given an inheritance--our status as sons and daughters--and that we are filled with grace.
Grace. His power, His ability, working in us.
It is sufficient.
By His grace, we get to be powerful people.
So, fear is the antithesis to power, to faith. Fear is also the antithesis to love.
I'm reading Danny Silk's Keeping Your Love On, and it's no coincidence that the chapter I just started is titled, "The Battle Between Fear and Love."
Fear of rejection, fear of (dis)connection, fear of vulnerability, fear of loss--that's the battle; each is the hindrance to our ability to be real and genuine, to be sincere in our love toward each other.
Silk writes, "Learning to partner with the spirit of love requires you to become powerful. That is a serious challenge. When Paul told Timothy that the spirit of love is also the spirit of power and a sound mind, he implied that the opposite, the spirit of fear, is the spirit of powerlessness and a weak, divided mind. When you grow up partnering with the spirit of fear, as most of us do, you learn to simply hand over your brain and your power, letting fear take control. But as soon as you decide to partner with the spirit of love, you have to think and make powerful choices" (p. 53).
Last post, I said that we are powerful people, and I love how Danny calls fear a spirit of powerlessness.
To be powerful is not the same as being a bully, manipulative, aggressive, or even controlling. In fact, one of the most freeing things I've heard recently from the pastors at Harvest is that control is an illusion.
Danny says it this way: "The only person you can control--on a good day--is you" (p. 51).
So let's talk about this last component: a sound mind. Some translations calls this a spirit of self-control. How appropriate!
Fear in relationships creates distances, disconnection, anything that looks nothing like love. Sometimes fear in relationships translates into the pseudo-power we tend to recognize: manipulation and control.
But for us to have healthy relationships, for us to love sincerely, we have to break the spirit of fear in our life. We have to take control of our minds--our thoughts, our worries, our assumptions, our judgments, our hypothetical conversations (I know I'm not the only person who does this :)). We have to learn to control our minds--to find self-control.
But the good news is God has given us a spirit, and it's not of fear. Like the gift of righteousness, like the fullness of grace, this gift is ours to choose, to believe, to receive His spirit of power and love and a sound mind.
I can't control others, but I can stay connected to my Father's heart. I can, by faith, receive the fullness of His grace. I can, through Him, be powerful in my relationships.
And what does it mean to be powerful? It means I'm free from fear--and more so, I'm free to love, to really love, with sincerity, with a genuine heart, without expectations, without fear, without shame.
I'm free to be vulnerable.
Last night, I heard a message on shame and the fear of loss, and like the spirit of fear we've been talking about, the pastor concluded that we fight shame by being vulnerable.
I'm still mulling this over, but I pray if you're reading this, I pray for myself, that we would recognize the strongholds of fear in our life, and that we would especially fight the battle of fear in our relationships with others, and that fear of lack, fear of rejection, fear of loss, insecurity by any name we want to give it would be broken in the name of Jesus.
May we be powerful and vulnerable people today.