“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7
Paul’s admonishment to his protégé, Timothy, has been oft-quoted of late in our polarized, climate of criticism and offense. The warning is not a condemnation of being afraid in the face of perceived danger. That is a natural, God-given reaction that aides in our survival. Fear narrows our focus physically and mentally in preparation for facing danger.
You’ve probably heard it called “fight or flight”. Neither of these is a solution in every circumstance. The scripture says to “flee youthful lusts” as well as “having done all to stand. Stand therefore…”
However, fear is not to be the driving force of Christian action. Jesus frequently told his disciples, “Fear not” and “Fret not” because fear is a passing preparation for action, not the reason for action, and certainly not the spirit that drives our actions.
I was taken to task recently for calling the present distress “viral hysteria”. The complaint was that the phrase signified the virus was not real or serious, neither of which was the reason for my words. The Covid virus, whatever its origins, is real enough and it can be deadly, though not nearly as often as we are led to believe.
The real danger from this virus is the fear whipped up by the media. Like sex, fear sells. It sells ratings, it sells products, it sells political agendas, but deadliest of all, it sells actions driven by a spirit of fear. It always has.
The spirit of fear has sparked genocide, persecution, and imprisonment in this country. We have not learned from those instances the lesson they should have taught us. I say this because we already have a portion of our population driven by a spirit of fear calling for the oppression of their fellow citizens.
When you have governors laying the blame for every social and economic ill at the feet of a certain group and expressing that elimination of that group will solve the problems, the spirit of fear that leads to death has been loosed among us.
The wisdom that comes from God is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easily entreated, full of mercy, and without hypocrisy. The fruit of such wisdom is peace. Talk about power, love, and a sound mind—there is the kind of thinking that exemplifies these virtues.
When will we learn to grant humanity to those who disagree with us so that they might enjoy, in like measure, the good we would have for our own? Who among us does not want the right to determine their own course of action?
Is it not a sound mind that grants this power of self-determination to everyone in return, for receiving the same from others? Is not this love? I tell you it is. And this, beloved, is God’s course for all who would dare to live in accord with the Holy Spirit.
It is that Holy Spirit that God has given us, a spirit who if followed produces power, love, and a sound mind that lives above fear.