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  • Writer's pictureLeon De Haan

Bring Back Boldness

When the Apostle Paul wrote the letter of Second Timothy, he was awaiting the executioner. He was in a Roman prison that was not like the first he was in. This prison was probably located in the sewer system of Rome. It was a pit that those sentenced to death await their execution. The reason why Paul was in this prison was because he had boldly proclaimed the Gospel. Paul did not hide what he believed. He spoke it loudly and clearly to a vast part of the Roman Empire.

Paul was writing the last letter he would write to his fellow worker in the faith, Timothy. As evident in his other writings, he was more concerned about Timothy than about himself. One of the things that Paul did was to ask Timothy to come to him in Rome as soon as possible. Because of the time it took to communicate in those days, Timothy arrived in Rome too late. Paul had already lost his life for his faith.

In the very beginning of the letter, Paul reaffirms Timothy’s faith. He tells Timothy to refresh the gift that God had given him, which was to be an apostle. He starts verse 7 with the word “for.” This word is a conjunction or in other words it connects verses 6 and 7. I believe what Paul was doing was telling Timothy how to kindle a fresh the gift God had given him. Then Paul writes a well-known scripture, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” Timothy was living in the city of Ephesus. Believers in Ephesus were under extreme persecution. Timothy was serving as an elder in the church there and he had seen this persecution firsthand. He probably had seen his fellow believers lose their lives. Also, at that time there was a great deal of dissension in the church in Ephesus. People were betraying each other. Paul was concerned that Timothy was losing his boldness.

Many translations of the Bible translate this verse as a spirit of fear. That is not exactly true. The Greek word for fear is phobos which means a state of severe distress. The word that Paul used is deilia. The root of this word means a coward. So what Paul is addressing was not really fear but a lack of boldness or timidity. Timidity has its roots in shame. Notice verse 8 where Paul tells Timothy not to be ashamed. That is a study in itself and I will save that for some other time. Going back now to verse 7, Paul tells Timothy that God did not give him that spirit. In our society today we see that shame is being used to bring upon the church a spirit of timidity. Paul not only tells us how to overcome shame, but also how to remove timidity from our lives.

Paul tells us what we have been given. Every believer has these “spirits” in them. They are there in their totality. We do not need more of God – we need less of ourselves. These three characteristics are in us because the Holy Spirit is in us. The Holy Spirit in you is the spirit of power. The Greek word here for power is dunamis. It means explosive power. God’s spirit in you has all the power of God backing it. That is why we should never be ashamed or timid. We have an omnipotent God behind us. He may not rescue us from physical death or persecution, but His power will give us the ability to stand.

Many years ago, I spent several days with a man who was in the Russian army during the time that Christians were persecuted there. At night, he would tell me about God’s faithfulness to him while He was being persecuted for his faith. One thing that amazed me was the love he was able to show to those who persecuted him. We not only have power, we also have supernatural love. The agape love of God is always supernatural and has its source in the Holy Spirit. This love is not conditional. It does not change. We can be bold because the love of God fills our hearts. We know God loves us and we then can love anyone, even those who persecute us.

The last characteristic that Paul lists is discipline. Some have translated this as self-discipline. It is not self-discipline, but it is Holy Spirit empowered discipline. The root of the Greek word used here means a sound mind. This is a discipline that will cause us to act with a sound mind or to act as we should. We have this in us as a believer. When we face the temptation to become timid about our faith, we can depend on the Holy Spirit to help us act like we should or to act like we have a sound mind.

I pray that you understand the key to having boldness is to know what is in you. You have the power of Almighty God in you. You have the love of God in you. You have the discipline of God in you so you can act as you should.

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