Yesterday we began to talk about Paul encouraging Timothy to be courageous in his faith. His first direction was to tell Timothy to rekindle or “stir up” Timothy’s gift: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Tim 1:6) Then Paul goes on to say, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Tim 1:7a). So if the Lord didn’t give us a spirit of fear, what did He give us instead? Paul goes on to list the resources: “but of (1) power and of (2) love and of a (3) sound mind”. Let’s look at each resource separately.
He first mentions power, which is the Greek word dunameōs, meaning (miraculous) power, might, and strength. It is a dynamic power that can only be given from God. The same root word is used in telling us about the coming Holy Spirit: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
It is God’s dynamic power that allows us to be courageous for Him, because He provides all that we need to do His bidding. God will “equip you with every good thing to carry out His will and strengthen you [making you complete and perfect as you ought to be], accomplishing in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:21) Don’t miss this: God does NOT call the equipped; He equips those He calls so that He will be glorified: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech 4:6b).
Second, he lists agape love. The news these days is full of reasons to be afraid, but God’s Word tells us, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18) When we experience God’s love in our lives and share it with others, we do not need to fear. The future punishment that awaits those who do not believe doesn’t concern the “abiding” believer. The two-way relationship of God’s love in our lives gives us confidence and security.
The ability to live out His love is a sign of our faith in Him, and the way for us to follow His will in order to gain eternal rewards. Fear is associated with punishment. The believer has been fully forgiven of sins. The one who knows Christ in true fellowship lives for Him and does not need to fear future punishment. The person who experiences fear “has not been perfected in love.” In other words, those who fear punishment don’t have a complete or mature relationship with God. Not only do we not need to fear, but we have great hope: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom 5:5)
And lastly, he lists a sound mind. The original Greek word translated “sound mind” here is sophronismos, and it appears in the Bible only this one time. Paul is writing to Timothy knowing his execution is drawing near. Paul realizes Timothy will need to counter his natural tendency toward quiet timidity by remembering that the Spirit of God lives within him. That Spirit will empower Timothy with boldness rather than fear, and with love and a sound mind. Timothy will rely on God’s Spirit to enable him to do whatever God requires. Timothy, being filled with God’s Spirit of love—the defining characteristic of Christians—will be capable of loving God and loving others. And Timothy will possess God’s Spirit of a sound mind. Each believer has that same opportunity.
The influence of the Spirit of God is required to produce a genuinely sound mind. The sound mind Paul speaks of is a mind under the control of God’s Holy Spirit. In the sense of self-discipline, the word sophronismos denotes careful, rational, sensible thinking. Having a sound mind requires a thought process based on the wisdom and clarity that God imparts rather than being manipulated by fear.
Today, as in Timothy’s day, fear is a driving force in the world. Fear inspires the news headlines, motivates advertising campaigns, and stirs up social media frenzies. Fear is one of Satan’s favorite devices to confuse our minds, cause irrational thoughts, misunderstandings, and derail us from the will of God. For this reason, the Word of God encourages us to cultivate a healthy, renewed mind that can process right-thinking based on God’s truth: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:2)
A sound mind is a stable, healthy mind, and is linked to our attitude and outlook as believers. It’s a mind not overly concerned with the cares and problems of this life, but is instead set on God and His Kingdom (Col 1:1–2). A sound mind is alert and sober, focused on the eternal hope we have in Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:13). A sound mind recognizes who we are in Christ, and does not depend on human wisdom and strength (2 Cor 10:3–5).
A sound mind is guarded through prayer and purity: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Phil 4:6–8)
A sound mind stabilizes our entire inner world. When Paul says God has given us the spirit of a sound mind (or self-control, discipline, and sound judgment), he doesn’t mean we’ll be able to train harder, eat better, or study more. Paul recognizes that God’s Spirit yields obedience, right living, and moral judgment. From the inside out, the Holy Spirit reshapes and transforms not just how we think, but who we are, giving us all the God-given resources we need to do the work He prepared before we were born to do for His kingdom. Thank You, Jesus!