Power and Love and Self-Control

For God has given us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ~2 Timothy 1:6

I grew up singing this song in church.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear…come on sing with me….okay maybe not.  I always assumed this song was telling me that I shouldn’t be afraid because God’s spirit was living in me and that meant I could tap into strength…His strength.  That’s a good assumption, right?  But what if that isn’t all that it’s telling me.

IF you’ve been to my house in the past three weeks you will have seen this verse up on the kitchen whiteboard.  It’s been there and all the while God has been doing something in my heart.  I couldn’t figure it out and it was bugging the ever loving booger out of me. I wanted to understand it more profoundly.  There was more hidden in that verse and I wanted to find it.

I mentioned, one week in small group, that I wondered if God had my heart because I sometimes didn’t feel the difference.  The Pastor Man commented that he could see something changing in me casually and left it at that.  I don’t think he realized what chain of events followed after that.  I went back to God and asked Him to change my heart.  I wanted to feel again.  I felt love for my family and that’s a good thing, but the Bible says that even an evil man feels affectionately for those whom he loves and who love him in return.  I wanted to feel love for those beyond my family. I wanted to be able to forgive those who hurt me and truly find some love in my heart for them.  God always gives us what we ask for when it lines up with His plan for our lives.  Of course, it’s going to be a process and there may be some I spend a lifetime trying to find love for, but it’s a start.

But let me stay on task here.  This is what I found hidden in that verse and if you’re still reading after those many rabbit trails, thank you.  I promise I’m getting to the point.  For God has given us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  The love spoken of is not the kind of love we read about in magazines or see on the screen.  This love is strong and wise.    We’ve all heard it said…Love makes you do stupid things…in one’s attempt to excuse a truly stupid decision.  This love is strong.  This love Paul speaks of gives you the power to move forward when you want to quit.  It’s the kind of love that gets you up after you’ve been gut-punched.  It’s the kind of love that knows you shouldn’t bail someone out for their own good, so you don’t.  It’s the kind of love that helps you say something hard to save someone’s soul.  It’s the kind of love the gives you the strength to walk away from something you really want to keep.  AND It’s the kind of love that opens you up to be hurt for the sake of the cross.  It makes you vulnerable for Jesus.

I’ve always equated this emotion with weakness.  Loving someone makes you weak.  Feeling makes you weak and in a way it’s true.  However, what if Paul is encouraging Timothy to love anyway because God will give him the strength to get through any hurt that happens as he ministers to the crazy loons in his church.  Being one of God’s kids almost guarantees you’re gonna get hurt.  So stop trying to avoid hurt. What I’m learning is that what I need to be doing in embracing God’s love and allowing it to empower me to be hurt and not stop.  For God has given me a spirit not of fear.  I shouldn’t be afraid of the hurt, but He has given me a spirit of power and love and self-control.  And believe me, I’m gonna need that self-control because when I get hurt my first instinct is to lash out and put the hurt to someone else.  Don’t worry though, I’m gonna tap into that power that helps me with the self-control.

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