For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 2 Timothy 1:6-8
The Spirit, a spirit, or what?
What is “a spirit of power, love and self-discipline”? Is he talking about the Holy Spirit, the human spirit, a right spirit (as in, attitude) – or all three? You probably know that, in the Bible, the word “spirit” can be seen in all those ways and it usually takes the context to decipher the difference. I think Paul might have had in mind a montage of these meanings. In other words, the Holy Spirit, who lives in our human spirit, enables us to have a healthy spirit.
Something Paul wrote in another passage clarifies this one… “You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you receive the Spirit of sonship. And by him (the Holy Spirit) we cry, ‘Abba Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we God’s children.” Romans 8:15-17
Though the context is different, it’s clear that the Spirit of God interacts with the spirit of man to produce a spirit of sonship (a revelation and appreciation of the fatherhood of our God). The Holy Spirit, when given unlimited access to our human spirit, will do in us what we couldn’t do for ourselves, create a healthy spirit, which in Timothy’s case replaced the spirit of fear with a brave spirit (in 2 Corinthians 4:13 it’s called the “spirit of faith”).
I’m no pilot, but my friend Jim is, and believe me, he loves to talk about his plane. I asked him, since what goes up must come down, what instrument with which his plane is equipped is most valuable in preventing him from going down prematurely and unintentionally. He mentioned something called an “Attitude Indicator,” and told me it’s used to inform the pilot of the orientation of the airplane relative to the ground. In other words – and I did need other words – when for some reason, you can’t see the ground, the Attitude Indicator shows you if you’re tilting to the front or back or to the left or right. I guess that’s pretty important when you’re airborne in a metal casket with wings.
It’s equally important to have the right “attitude” while soaring above the clouds in the adventure of God. In order to continue on our airborne course and avoid bad landings and deadly crashes, this Spirit-empowered attitude of power, love and self-discipline is indispensible. Those who fail to fight their fear of flying miss out on the panoramic sights along the way and the possibilities at the flight’s destination. Let us not fearfully avoid the opportunities of the spiritual flight, but let the Holy Spirit invade our human spirit to create a healthy spirit of courage, embrace the risks of adventure, and soar with our Adventure Guide to places unknown and unexpected.
[One more post on this topic. I think…]