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"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self discipline." NIV translation
In our last study, we looked at growing in our ability to hear and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit in our lives ("fanning the flame"). Now, Paul begins to describe what it looks like when that ember has become a full fledged flame of fire.
We see that he speaks of three things that we receive through the power of the Spirit and we are reminded that, throughout the Bible, that number is associated with the earthly display of God's will for men.
He begins with the fact that the presence of the Spirit does not make us "timid". That word basically means lacking courage and Paul is speaking of the fact that, as a Spirit-filled Christian, we are given confidence that replaces our fear. As we will see later in this letter, Timothy was known for being timid even to the point of fear causing him to have stomach problems.
Fear is basically a feeling that is caused by a belief that something is able to cause harm to us and this comes from the devil. It is the opposite of faith and confidence in the fact that God is ultimately in control of ALL things. As Christians, we grow in our faith and confidence through service that is led by the Holy Spirit.
This Christian confidence gives us the three things that Paul listed and the first is power or strength. This strength allows us to see past our present circumstances and to hold onto the promises of God. This strength is increased with every struggle that we go through as we remember how God got us through our previous troubles. The second thing that Paul lists is love and it speaks of the ability to serve those that may persecute us while the third is self discipline which is training ourselves to follow the prompting of the Spirit even when there may be "serious consequences" for doing so.