TO CHEW ON: “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
In the next little while we’ll be reading through the book of 2 Timothy. In preparation for that I read the book notes in my study Bible and discovered some facts that put the book in its history context and gave me a deeper appreciation for it. Maybe they’ll help you see it in a new light too.
1. Paul wrote this book shortly before he died. Scholars believe he was executed before Nero’s death in A.D. 68 and that he wrote this letter in 66 or 67 A.D.
2. He was in prison when he wrote it. This was not the private house arrest he’d been under earlier. “Now he was confined in a dungeon and friends could see him only with difficulty. Formerly he had expected to be released but now he looked forward to death (2 Timothy 4:6-8)” - James L. Beall, Study notes on 2 Timothy, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1709.
3. The foremost purpose of the letter was to encourage his young trainee leader Timothy: “… the letter is not an orderly, well-planned literary production but a personal note passionately expressing the apostle’s last will and testament” - Ibid.
Keeping the above in mind, Paul’s encouragement to Timothy not to fear is especially moving. If anyone had reason to fear, it was Paul. But it seems long ago he had made peace with his own mortality (“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. “ - Philippians 1:21) and so he could bolster Timothy’s faith with words that resonate down through the centuries to us today: “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.
A Word Wealth article in my Bible elaborates on “sound mind”:
[Sound mind - sophronismos - a combination of sos (“safe”) and phren (“the mind”) hence, safe thinking. The word denotes good judgment, disciplined thought patterns and the ability to understand and make right decisions. It includes the qualities of self control and self-discipline - Dick Mills, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1711 - emphasis added]
How might we defeat the opposite of a sound mind—a fearful, timid mind—in ourselves? One way is to cultivate a sound mind, i.e. guard our thought life.
Some verses that speak eloquently of how to set that guard in place:
“The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ" - 2 Corinthians 10:4,5 MSG.
“And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about” - Philippians 4:8 TLB
PRAYER: Dear Father, help me to do my part in defeating fearful, timid thoughts. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.