For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline
(2 Timothy 1:7).
Last week, we looked at the first half of this verse and saw what God hasn’t given us: a spirit of fear and timidity.
This week, we get to look at what He has given us: a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.
First, those who are in Christ receive His power. No, this doesn’t mean you’ll instantly add 100 pounds to your squat the minute you hand your life over to Jesus. But it does mean you will have the power of Christ within you, equipping and enabling you to do whatever He calls you to do.
The best part about Christ’s power at work in you, is it means you no longer need to rely on your own power, which, if you’re being honest, is extremely limited. The power of Christ, however, is infinite.
Second, those who are in Christ receive His love. We are told that we love because He first loved us. In other words, apart from experiencing (and trusting) the love of Christ, we cannot effectively love others. We must receive it before we can offer it.
We can try to love others, but there will always be at least a small amount of self-interest driving your motivation. Under the surface, your love will always be given with the hope of receiving their love in return. (Not that there is anything wrong with receiving love. The problem is when your offer of love is conditional upon being loved in return).
Once you trust that the unconditional love of Christ applies to you, it frees you from needing to obtain validation from others. Your need for love will be fully met by Christ, and only then can you offer love to others completely free from any external motivation.
And finally, those who are in Christ are given a spirit of self-discipline. We often look at following Jesus as an outside-in process. If I change my behavior, my heart will become alive to Christ. In reality, following Jesus is an inside-out process. I must first submit my life to Christ and allow Him to redeem my heart and give me a new nature.
The message of Christ isn’t “Become a better person so I can love you.” No, the message of Christ is “You can’t become a better person, but because I love you in spite of your brokenness, I will make you a new person. And as a new person, you will have My spirit of self-discipline inside of you enabling you to change your behavior.”
We have power because His spirit of power empowers us.
We can love others because His spirit of love dwells in us.
We can resist temptation because He has given us His spirit of self-disciple.
So the next time you feel you need more power, more love, or more self-discipline, don’t look to your own ability to drum it up. Recognize that because the spirit of Christ dwells in you, you already have all the power, love, and self-disciple you will ever need.
Instead of trying to generate more of these things, I would encourage you to trust that you already have more than you will ever need.