Power of a different kind: a meditation while ironing clothes

2 Timothy 1:7 is a pretty well-known verse. Many Christians have committed it to memory. “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 

A couple of days back, while I was ironing clothes, the verse crept into my mind and as I was pondering over it, I found myself thinking about the relationship between power and love and discipline. Now, it seems natural that the opposite of timidity or fear is power… after all, if you are weak, you do tend to be timid. So it does seem to follow that if you have power, you need not be timid.

But power is not alone in what God has given in this context. Love and discipline (self-control in other translations; the idea is self-discipline) come along too. But they seem strange bedfellows these three: power, love and discipline. They don’t seem to belong together; and yet, in my opinion, they must. Let me explain.

In stark contrast to the world’s values, Christian “power” does not seek to dominate and control. Rather, love should characterise it. We misunderstand the nature of God’s power in us if we do not exercise His empowering in love (cf. 1 Corinthians 12-13: the supremacy of love over spiritual gifts!)

Power is nothing without control. So goes the famous Pirelli tagline. This again does reflect, in a way, the proper biblical understanding of Christian empowering and power. There has been perhaps a mistaken idea in contemporary Christianity that a mark of spirituality (and moving in the Spirit) is the loss of self-control. Nothing could be further than the truth. In fact, as this passage (and others) state, the mark of a Spirit-filled Christian IS self-control or self-discipline. It is the enablement from God to do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, with the right motive, and thus achieve the right result.

So, yes, we may have memorised 2 Timothy 1:7, but perhaps we should look afresh at what it actually means and how we can live it out. Amen.

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