Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” Here is a man writing from prison, admonishing Timothy to live with power.
Today religion in general, and Christianity in particular are seen as personal lifestyle choices, and in many places in the Western world are not so much despised as they are ignored as irrelevant.
The challenge for Timothy and Paul was an open hostility to the message of the Gospel. But, Paul here notes that this was not to make them timid, because it was difficult. He also noted that the characteristics necessary to make advances in such a world were provided by the Spirit: love and self-discipline.
Isn’t this still the case with us? We are called to not be timid of our calling, just as Timothy was. Our views, or at least the world’s perception of our views may be unpopular. Here is where the love and self-discipline comes in. In John 13, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” This testimony of love should be an overriding principle in our lives. We need to live beyond our narrow theological differences, by finding what we share. And this does not mean we should be accepting of blatant sin, but rather to address these issues in a spirit of love. This is even more true of issues of interpretation. In living accordingly by love, many of the perceived “intolerances” attributed to us will be shown to be false perceptions.
So we should not be timid with the Gospel, but we also need not to be bullies with it either. Soft power goes a long way. Francis de Sales put it well when he said, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.”
Here the self-discipline come in. We need to live the life we profess. Our example is more powerful than our words. In acting in a controlled, spiritually focused way we don’t send mixed messages. It also means that we live a life controlled by love. We are not here to condemn others. It’s not our job. We can teach, even admonish, but ultimately we need to show.
Let us not be timid in showing His and our love. That’s where real power lies.