2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
I’m looking at that, and I prayed it for God’s Church in the world, and I’m thinking about it.
I used to read this verse as an anthem to have self-control. Whenever I was tempted to do wrong, I would say, “God gave me a spirit of power, love, and self-control, so I have the self-control to resist doing this thing I want to do that’s wrong!” (spoken in a Walter Cronkite determined voice)
So now I’m looking at it, and I’m thinking, there is something wrong with the word SELF in there. I thought about it last night, and yesterday afternoon, but only this morning was I able to look it up.
check out this definition:¬† The editors of The Collected Dialogues of Plato (Princeton University Press, 1989), in introducing Charmides, write
…the subject of the Charmides is, What is sophrosyne? — and that word cannot be translated by any one English word. The truth is that this quality, this sophrosyne, which to the Greeks was an ideal second to none in importance, is not among our ideals. We have lost the conception of it. Enough is said about it in Greek literature for us to be able to describe it in some fashion, but we cannot give it a name. It was the spirit behind the two great Delphic sayings, “Know thyself” and “Nothing in excess.” Arrogance, insolent self-assertion, was the quality most despised by the Greeks. Sophrosyne was the exact opposite. It meant accepting the bounds which excellence lays down for human nature, restraining impulses to unrestricted freedom, to all excess, obeying the inner laws of harmony and proportion.
(I got that from a guy’s research on the web, but I’m not linking to his site, because he maligns this verse into some big long thing about what is wrong with the American Government. o-k)
Ok, so nothing in excess and know thyself. I think the NIV people did me wrong when they called this self-discipline. Self-discipline is something you work up within you. It’s something you have or you feel guilty because you don’t have. It’s something that I used to preach about how much people *should* have while I hated myself for not having it in the right places. Self-discipline. All I can think about is the verb “Muster” with the words self-discipline.
The roots of the word ‘muster’ is to show or a sign. That’s about right. Make a show of your self-discipline. You know why that goes together? Because self-discipline only counts for the show you make of yourself-it doesn’t count for God. God really doesn’t give a rip about your self-discipline. No wait, He does. He hates it. Your selfish deeds of pious religiosity are stank in His sight. (ok, now a little Leonard Sweet is coming out)
I see that I overlooked the first part of this verse and made the latter part a new law. God gave us this spirit. I don’t sit and pray and grunt to have the POWER to heal, and I don’t¬† grit my teeth to LOVE my enemies. I do it with joy. I do it with the joy of Jesus living His life out of me every day. I do it while asking Jesus to teach me, and asking this Spirit to remind me of all things while He lives it out in my life.
Here’s a freebie. the word ‘Give’ as in, what God did with this Spirit, is ‘didomi’ and it means to give.¬† But there is one place where it has a slightly different connotation. In Acts 19, there is a riot in Ephesus and there are a bunch of people at the stadium, and Paul wants to go to the theatre and preach to all of them about Christ. But it says that his friends didn’t want him to didomi himself at the theatre. That makes sense. Don’t give yourself to those people, because you’ll be handing yourself right over to death at the hands of a riotous mob! But the KJV doesn’t translate it as ‘give.’ they translate it as ADVENTURE!
GOD ADVENTURES in us a spirit of power, love, and sophronismos. He does it, not us!