Paul wrote to a young pastor named Timothy about the promise of a bold, fearless Christianity through the indwelling Spirit. Timothy came from a family of believers. Both his grandmother and his mother were Christians before him: “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice” (2 Timothy 1:5).
So Timothy came from a faith-filled background. He was the spiritual son of the apostle Paul and eventually entered the ministry. Obviously, Timothy enjoyed great spiritual privileges from the very day of his conversion. But despite all those early advantages and godly examples, something was amiss with Timothy’s ministry. Thus, Paul challenged him, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power” (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
Paul reminds Timothy, and all of us, that we can be sincere in our faith and yet drift back into fear and timidity. Even Christians who love the Lord and study the Bible can be fearful and self-conscious when opportunities to speak for Christ arise. Sadly, in some situations, we seemingly can speak about anything but our Savior.
So, what did Paul tell Timothy to do? Did he tell him to try harder, to reach down for something deeper within? No. Paul told Timothy that the Holy Spirit was the only antidote to the virus of fear in his life. The Spirit’s fire had to be stirred up — nurtured and given attention to — for when God’s Spirit was ablaze, there would be boldness to replace Timothy’s seemingly natural inclination to timidity.
Two thousand years later, church history has clearly shown that when God’s Spirit moves, when believers and churches meet God in a new way, people become bold and radical for Jesus Christ. It is not something taught by a Christian minister. Spiritual courage only comes directly from the Holy Spirit.
Do not let a fear of failure stop you from doing what God lays on your heart. Be bold in the Spirit and don’t hold back!
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.