The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe. Proverbs 29:25 (NKJV)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
Yesterday we saw that the fear or timidity that prevents us from faithfully serving Jesus NEVER comes from God. Instead, it comes from our three great enemies, the world, the flesh or the devil. These three are constantly at work trying to make us too afraid or too timid to faithfully serve Jesus. So how do we courageously and faithfully serve Jesus and share His Gospel when there is so much opposition that wants to keep us from doing this?
We rely on what God has given as explained by Paul. God equips us through the power of the Holy Spirit. The word spirit here refers to our spirit, but the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and infuses us with power, love and a sound mind.
Power-The word used here is the same word used in Acts 1:8,
“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 (NKJV)
The greatest proof we are living a Spirit filled, Spirit controlled life is our faithfulness to share the Gospel with others because the Holy Spirit empowers us to do this. Many times people will say they don’t have a naturally bold personality and so they can’t faithfully serve Jesus or share His Gospel with anyone. What we see here is that our ability to faithfully serve Jesus and share His Gospel isn’t dependent in our personality type. Instead the Holy Spirit gives us the power necessary to faithfully serve Jesus and share His Gospel.
The idea from this isn’t that we are to muster up more courage. It is that we are to more fully surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit and let Him empower us and so replace our fear with courage. Part of what we have to understand is that the Holy Spirit isn’t going to empower us to sit and remain silent. We don’t need the Holy Spirit’s power if we aren’t going to faithfully serve Jesus and share His Gospel. The Holy Spirit always and only empowers us to serve and to share. The Holy Spirit only gives us this power when we need it. We only need it as we begin to serve Jesus and share His Gospel.
Love-We are all probably familiar with the great commandment. This is the command to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our soul, all our minds and all our strength and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mk 12:30-31). Genuine love for God and a genuine love for others should be the primary motivator for all our service to Jesus and all our sharing of His Gospel with others. When I truly love Jesus I will faithfully serve Him. When I truly love others I will faithfully tell them about Jesus who can and will save them. This is the kind of love for others that is expressed by Jesus.
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42 NKJV)
Jesus has made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and is now quickly approaching the cross. He comes and looks at a city of people that will in a few days scream “Crucify Him, Crucify Him” and He weeps because of their lack of faith and lost condition. This passage always amazes me. Despite what He knew they were about to do to Him, Jesus weeps over them.
It is the kind of love for others that is expressed by the Apostle Paul.
“I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,” (Romans 9:1-3 NKJV)
The holy anguish that Paul expresses here comes from a deep and genuine love for these people. One of my heroes of the faith is an evangelist from the late 1800’s named D.L. Moody. One day someone went to him to find out why his ministry was so effective. He called them over the window and had them look out on a city park and asked them what they saw. They responded they saw families playing, people walking their dog and generally just things you would see in a park. They asked him what he saw and with tears in his eyes he said, “Souls, precious souls that will spend eternity in hell without Jesus Christ.”
What do you see when you go out in public? Do you see people going about their business or does love compel you to see souls, precious souls that will spend eternity in hell without Jesus? This is a selfless love that motivates us to take the initiative to do what is best for others even when they don’t appreciate it. What is best for others is that we risk offending them by telling them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Again this kind of love isn’t something we can work up on our own. Instead it is a love that the Holy Spirit brings into our lives as we surrender to His control.
Sound mind-This would probably be better translated as self-control. This is basically the ability to choose to do what we know is right or to resist what we know is wrong despite our desire to do otherwise. When I am tempted not to serve Jesus or share His Gospel because I am afraid, or any other reason, self-control enables me to do it anyway. The Bible teaches that self-control is a very important trait for a person to have.
“Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.” (Proverbs 25:28 NKJV)
In ancient times a city was only a safe as its wall was sturdy. The wall was the first line of defense against invaders. A city without a wall was a sitting duck just waiting for invaders to come and conquer it. A person without self-control is just as vulnerable as a city without walls.
It is through self-control that we can make ourselves do those things that we know that God wants us to do despite fearfully lacking self-confidence. Once again we must recognize that the idea here isn’t that we are to simply muster up self-control on our own. Instead it is the idea that the Holy Spirit will bring this into our lives as we surrender to His leadership in our lives.
One of the great things about God is that He never asks us to do anything that He won’t equip us to do. They key for us is to trust that God will do what He said He would do and then move out to do what God has called us to do.
For further study read 2 Corinthians 3:1-6.
Did Paul feel himself to be sufficient for the mission God had given him?
Where did Paul’s sufficiency come from?
If you feel fearfully inadequate for the task at hand, where will your sufficiency come from?