A Faith Not For the Faint of Heart (2 Timothy 1:7)
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. —2 Timothy 1:7
Believing the gospel is not for the faint of heart.
This morning you and I rolled out of bed to find ourselves in a difficult world (2 Timothy 3:1), one that is madly in love with hating God (2 Timothy 3:4) and one that attempts to solicit our own heart’s allegiance.
Believer, today you and I will be tempted: tempted to be ashamed of the good news of Jesus by which we were saved (2 Timothy 1:8a), tempted to be ashamed of associating with fellow believers and gospel ministers (2 Timothy 1:8b), tempted to avoid gospel suffering (2 Timothy 1:8c), and—even more—tempted join the world in its wicked loves… loving ourselves supremely, loving money and the things it can buy, loving our accomplishments in life, loving to disobey our parents, loving the fleeting “pleasures” of pornography rather than the pleasures of God (2 Timothy 3:1-7).
Believer, will you press on in faith (like Paul; 2 Timothy 4:7, 13) or cower in fear as opposition mounts? How will you endure? (2 Timothy 2:12) Where is your confidence?
Paul opens this affectionate letter to Timothy by placing him—and us—on the rock solid ground of identity. Who we are, and whose we are, makes all the difference in our ability to overcome today’s gospel opposition (1 John 3:7-10). You can almost hear Paul’s voice:
Timothy, I love you, I thank God for you, I miss you (2 Timothy 1:2-4)! Before I say anything else about your calling as a minister or the difficulties you must be facing in Ephesus today, I just want you to remember that you belong to God.
For better or worse, we often take on the personality of our earthy parents. How much more for those who have God as their Heavenly Father? Whether it’s Timothy in the 1st century, or you and I in the 21st century, believers overcome opposition not primarily by sound strategy (though helpful) but because of what God gives to his children by faith in Christ—“God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Believer, have you considered the power of God in you today? Remember how God’s power single-handedly saved you and called you to a holy calling—even before the ages began (2 Timothy 1:9)? Remember how God’s power abolished death itself and brought life and immortality to those who believe (2 Timothy 1:10)? Remember how impossible it is to bind the powerful word of God (2 Timothy 2:9)? Remember how powerfully effectual the word of God is in accomplishing its purposes—wisdom for salvation though faith in Christ Jesus, competence for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17)? Surely this kind of power—which is yours by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:14)—is able to guard and keep you through any and all enemy resistance until the end (2 Timothy 1:10).
Believer, don’t hide in the bushes on today’s battlefield of opposition. It isn’t you! It isn’t the kind of Spirit that dwells in you!
Believing the gospel is not for the faint of heart, but that is not the kind of heart we have. We have one that beats powerfully by his Spirit. Let us “fan into flame” this gift from our Father today (2 Timothy 1:6)!
1. Where are you being tempted to “fear” today?
2. In addition to God’s power, have you stopped to contemplate God’s love today? What comes to mind? (See Ephesians 2:4.) How might this defeat gospel opposition in your life today?
3. What is the “reason” (2 Timothy 1:6a) that Paul reminds Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Timothy 1:6b)? (See 2 Timothy 1:5.)
4. How do you think this relates to Timothy’s—and our—ability to do what Paul says?