Question: Do Christians look different from other people? In Daniel 6:3, it was described, concerning Daniel, that “an excellent spirit was in him.” There was something about Daniel’s disposition that made him outstanding, even impressing King Darius, and resulting in Daniel’s exaltation above the other presidents and princes. Likewise, Christians should appear different from those in the world. We are different, because of the spirit that God has given to us. What kind of spirit has God given to Christians?
2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
God has given us a spirit. This passage is not referring to the Holy Spirit, but to a certain disposition. E.g. we may describe someone who is happy as being in good spirits: he has a cheerful disposition. First thing to note about the spirit that God has given us: it is NOT a spirit of fear.
Christians should not be characterized by a spirit of fear. Timothy seemed to have gotten the spirit of fear, and has withdrawn himself from the work as a result. Perhaps he feared because of the persecutions from without (cf. 2 Timothy 3:11-12); perhaps it was because of false teachers from within (cf. 1 Timothy 4:1). However, we know the only one who is worthy of fear: God (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Man can do much evil to us, but it is God only who is capable of casting our souls into Hell; therefore, do not fear what men can do to us, but fear God (Matthew 10:28). Jesus has warning for us, that if we are too fearful to do His work, He will also be ashamed on us on that last day (Mark 8:38).The fearful are among those who will ultimately have their destiny in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).
Instead of a spirit of fear, Christians should be characterized by a spirit of power. During the 1st century, the Christians had access to miraculous powers, and could perform signs and wonders to validate their message (cf. Mark 16:20). Today, we do not possess miraculous power anymore (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10). However, Christians have access to the power to overcome all obstacles and to face all dangers. As Paul stated, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Christians are characterized by a confidence in life that allows us to do wonderful things for God. We can have such confidence and power because our God is powerful, and is able to give strength to those who are weak and weary:
“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Christians are able to access God’s power through the gospel, which is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). When we are obedient to the gospel call, God’s word is able to work effectively in us (1 Thessalonians 2:13). We can also access God’s power through prayer, which “has great power as it is working” (James 5:16 ESV). As we continually devote ourselves to the study and application of God’s word, and to prayer, we can obtain the spirit of power.
Since Christians are characterized by a spirit of power, we are not those who go about our day with an attitude of pessimism or a defeatist attitude. Rather, we are those who are able to have confidence and optimism in life, because we are empowered with the knowledge that God is working on our side. We are not those who give up because there are too many lost souls to reach out to, neither are we pessimistic about the church’s evangelism plans; rather, we embrace the church’s evangelism programs, and take on the challenge to reach out to all the lost souls.
Let us not have the spirit of fear that hinders us from using our talents for God’s glory. This spirit is not from God. Rather, let us have the spirit of power that will propel us to greater service for God. May our days be filled with optimism and enthusiasm for the Lord.