A few days ago, Alean and I were driving into town to purchase a couple of items needed to complete Christmas gifts for the grandchildren. As we made the drive, our conversation veered into a discussion of those times we speak truth, but do so in damaging ways. In such situations the content of our communications may be accurate, but our timing or manner of delivery is way off the mark.
We recalled a couple of times we had witnessed pastors standing before their congregations, saying things that were clearly directed at a single person in the audience, and delivering those statements in such a crushing manner that the person never showed their face in that community again. It is doubtful that was the ultimate goal of the pastor, but that was, unfortunately, the result.
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7, NASB
The statement above was made with reference to a gift within Timothy, a gift delivered through the laying on of the apostle Paul’s hands. As an apostle, Paul was able to pass spiritual gifts to others through laying his hands on them. Timothy was Paul’s “child in the faith,” meaning Paul taught Timothy about Jesus, and as such became his spiritual parent in the faith. Paul is reminding Timothy, in this passage, to kindle his gift afresh; exhorting him to stir it aflame.
“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” – 2 Timothy 1:6, NASB
The gifting God gives his people is not something to be used timidly, selfishly, or carelessly, but rather with power, love, and discipline. The power of God within a Christ-follower is not a toy with which one plays, but a tool with which one advances the kingdom of God. With gifts in hand, we exercise them with three governing controls firmly in place:
God’s gifts within us are not particularly effective if we are too timid to use them. Any sense of timidity we feel in that regard is not coming from God, and that truth alone should give us pause.
God has not given us a spirit of “deilias.” Deilias is not fear, so much, as it is timidity, or even cowardice. God’s people are neither timid, nor cowardly in deploying the gifts God has placed within us. Note that the power is not the gift, but rather the gift is to be governed by the power God gives.
The governing force of God’s gift within us is “dunamis,” from which we derive the term dynamite! Dynamite is neither timid nor cowardly. It is also exceedingly dangerous when used without great care. Understand that the gifts God has placed within you, he has empowered you with the ability to use, but this must be done with great care and sobriety.
The gift is regulated by love. The entire discussion of gifting from 1 Corinthians chapters 12 to 14 is governed, or regulated, by chapter 13. Any gift God places within me that is not governed by love is a gift I am abusing. Any use of a gift from God that draws attention to me rather than brings glory to God is a gift I am abusing. Any gift from God that I use to advance myself and my standing in the church or in society rather than to advance the kingdom of God alone is a gift I am abusing.
“Let love be your greatest aim.” – 1 Corinthians 14:1a, TLB
Again, love itself is not the gift, but love regulates my use of the gift.
The gifts of God are governed by “sophronismos,” the discipline and training that molds our character and reigns in our behavior in the same way a track guides the train that rides upon it. It is a combination term, melding the ideas “to save” and “to control,” giving us an end product of “safe control.”
The engineering firm that employs me for my day job bombards us with safety training. We are drilled with safety training, tested on it, and able, or unable to secure contracts with clients on the basis of our safety rating. As I write this, our company has in excess of five and a half million hours of work without a time-loss accident. Such an impressive record is achieved only through deliberate, disciplined effort.
Attempting to use the gifts of God without discipline lacks the safety controls those gifts merit, and is a terribly dangerous practice.
Kindle afresh the gift of God within you, but do so with the regulating Spirit of power, love, and discipline. The power drives our timidity, the love realigns our focus from self to others, and the discipline enforces safety controls that prevent us from doing damage.
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” – 1 Peter 4:10
Victoriously in Christ!