We were reminded yesterday to fan the embers of our salvation into a bright, hot flame that can’t be missed by others so that the Lord is glorified. And today we’ll gain more of an understanding of what the Spirit gives us when we burn brightly for Christ in this dark world. “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:6-7)
Yesterday we discovered that “the gift of God” is salvation, not talking about a particular spiritual gift. And because we have eternal salvation through our belief that Jesus is the Son of God who paid the ransom for our lives, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit who lives within us. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph 1:13-14)
The Holy Spirit within us empowers us with boldness rather than fear, and with love and a sound mind. Instead of a spirit of fear, we have within us “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:18-20). We can rely on God’s Spirit to enable and equip us to do whatever He requires (Heb 13:20-21).
As Christ’s disciples, we don’t only have His power, but we know true love. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 Jn 4:7-11)
Truthfully, I sometimes find it difficult to love people who I perceive have hurt me. So I want to reaffirm a statement from above: We can rely on God’s Spirit to enable and equip us to do whatever He requires. I’ve been praying about some specific people in my life where we seem to have gone amiss with each other. I’ve prayed about it, cried about it, been righteously indignant about it — which amounts to nothing but pride which the Lord hates. No, we aren’t to think of ourselves better; in fact we are to think about others first AFTER we first seek the Lord. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Phil 2:3)
Yesterday the Lord put it in the heart of two of those people I’ve been praying about to reach out to me, which gave me the opportunity to love them honestly, to share things with them that I needed to share, listened with a loving ear, and mostly to let them know although there are some very real differences that won’t go away, we can still love one another. I thank the Lord for the opportunity He created to learn to be a better friend. “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:20-21)
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. “For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly” (Prov 2:6-7).
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. A healthy mind is linked to our attitude and outlook as believers. A sound mind is not overly concerned with the cares and problems of this life but is 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 (Phil 4:6-8). A sound mind stabilizes our entire inner world because we obediently yield to God’s Word for right living and moral judgment. From the inside out, the Holy Spirit reshapes and transforms not just how we think, but who we are.