Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?

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©Maggie Lowe

E’rebody.

I don’t mean to give you a curt answer or anything.  But…e’rebody.

You see, we live in a world where fear doesn’t show up, isn’t part of life…it’s throwing the party, it’s our life coach.  It is everywhere we are and tends to take control of the entire situation no matter how good our God has proved Himself repeatedly.

Recently, I desired to write a post on Facebook and fear made itself very obvious.  I was writing about the news and just…looking into what is going on in our world got me a little nervous.  However, I turned to Scripture to find Truth.  Do you remember that?  The fact that the Bible is fact.  Well, you should! Anyway, I turned to Scripture and I found this old verse:

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
(2 Tim. 1:7, ESV)

Here is the temptation for Christians.  The temptation is to find this verse and try to force it to fit our needs.  “This is truth, and truth is true, so this is all I need.”  We have an amazing lack of time to spend with God in His word.  If we would make more time…He would have our minds be blown!  Stay with me here.

I quickly ran to my ESV Keyword Study Bible with Hebrew and Greek translations and footnotes.  I turned to this verse and I learned…some interesting things.

The first thing to note is the verb tense of the word “gave”.  Without getting into ridiculous detail for the sake of this post, the tense of this Greek word basically means “this happened and that is the truth”.  So we start out with this idea that “God gave”…and y’all that is truth.  It is a truth fact that “God gave us”.

(The word spirit is used a lot in Scripture.  Here, it refers to a disposition.  I think along the lines of a personality trait.  )

What did He give?  Well, not a spirit of fear!  No sir!  But wait, we are told repeatedly in Scripture to have a fear of the Lord…so, what about that?  That fear is a kind of awed reverence.  The fear spoken of here is different…it is always used in a negative connotation.  Another word for this kind of fear is timidity, but to the point of cowardice.  A fear that leads to inaction through cowardly behavior.  I know God didn’t give me that kind of Spirit!  I am created in Christ’s image and my Jesus was everything BUT cowardly.

Let’s rebuild this verse through our findings.  So far we have:

For God, literally and truthfully handed us not a disposition of cowardly timidity…

The next big word we come to is the word power.  The particular word used in the Greek here paints a picture of “manly vigor”.  I love that imagery!  I have some amazing men in my life and know of some in the public eye, but you want to know the first man that popped into my mind under the description of “manly vigor”?  Paul Bunyan.  Yep.  Paul Bunyan and his blue ox.  But here is what I love about language and words: its nuances.  You see, a further reading shows us that this word power doesn’t just mean “manly vigor”.  It is actually defined as being in opposition to cowardice.

GOD IS SO COOL!!!  He didn’t just tell us here that we don’t have a spirit of fear/cowardice but that we actually have the exact opposite.  The spirit of power that we possess is in direct opposition to the spirit of fear the world encourages us to cling to.  How beautiful!

The word love is the Greek word Agape, and if you know much about Biblical language, there are a few different words for love but this is the big, God Love kind of Love.  Just another Biblical command to love everyone like God loves us.

Finally, we come to the word self-control.  This is where it got a little more confusing because this word came from these two roots and those words came from these two roots and so on and don’t the rabbit hole and all that good stuff.  But, what I want to share with you right now is what God guided me to while doing my research.  Lets look at our update verse before we finish this out:

For God, literally and truthfully handed us, not a disposition of cowardly timidity, but a personality of vigor in direct opposition to the cowardice, the trait of God-love…

…and self-control.  The Greek word used here trickles down from a word that, in its roots, combines two meanings.  The first is an idea of physical safety.  What I love about our God though…is that He covers everything.  The other idea is of being safe mentally.  This idea of self-control comes from this word suggesting a building of fences.  We build fences around our mind to keep us safe from the temptation that can arise at any moment.

Here, this verse reaches its climax.  You see, with a spirit of self-control, of fence building self-control, I have no need to fear.  But should that fear break through my outer wall, I have been given a vigor that is in direct opposition to that fear and it is my next line of defense.  And then, if even my vigor is not enough to hold back my fear, I have God-love. Given to me by the God of all love who fights for me and who fear can’t even TOUCH, let alone defeat!

For God, literally and truthfully handed us, not a disposition of cowardly timidity, but a personality of vigor in direct opposition to the cowardice, the trait of God-love, and a tendency toward fence building control which keeps me guarded physically and mentally, while God guards my heart.

 Love each other.

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