“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
This verse has always been a sort of a go to for me when dealing with fear. Paul was addressing Timothy’s timidity and shyness at proclaiming the word when he gave him these words but they truly do say so much more. Yes, I can get timid and worrisome over what others think of me when I write or teach or speak but even more than that is where my mind starts to go when I start worrying about the future and what may happen. I love this verse because of what God does give us is much more than what He doesn’t give us. He gives us “power and love and self-control.”
First we have to remember that fear and anxiety is never from God. When I wake up in the middle of the night and start worrying about the future, or just about things I have absolutely no control over that is when I know I have let Satan into my thoughts. It’s so hard to shut those thoughts and fears off after I have let them creep in. But what God does give me is the power to shut them off. The ability that He gives me to shut them off comes from the self-control that can only come from Him.
Let’s look at other translations of those words. The ESV says self-control; the CSB says “sound judgment”; the NKJV says “sound mind”; and the NIV says “self-discipline”. In commentary I read:
“God has given us a sound mind: The ancient Greek word here had the idea of a calm, self-controlled mind, in contrast to the panic and confusion that rushes in when in a fearful situation.”
So while all of these words are different in the different versions, they are all saying the same thing. When your mind is calm and self-controlled your judgement will be sound. You can make decisions more clearly. However, if we aren’t careful we could put too much self in it because of the words self-control and self-discipline. But while we have to exercise it out ourselves we truly can only have this type of self-control when walking hand in hand with the Holy Spirit.
Fear is a liar, Satan is a liar. God is a god of order and control, not of chaos and confusion nor fear. I wish I could tell you I will never allow mind to be wrecked with fear over the unknown again, that I would never feel the quickening and shortness of breath that creep in when I let my negative thoughts take over. I can tell you I don’t want to. But I am learning. I am learning where to go to put those thoughts away. I am learning to ask God to take control of those thoughts. I am asking Him to replace them with good thoughts. I am asking Him to calm my thoughts and my fears. And I know that I can only have self-control when I am leaning in so close to Jesus that I let His thoughts take over mine.
Oh Lord, take over my thoughts today. Help me to put away the negative thoughts and to exercise the power and self-control that You have given me.