A few years ago a popular program appeared on television called “Fear Factor” where the contestants would be faced with all kinds of potentially fearful challenges created by the producers and writers. One-by-one participants would be eliminated because this emotion would get the best of them. Finally only one person would be left, and the host Joe Rogan would say to him or her, “Fear is not a factor for you.”
But for some of us, including me, that unpleasant often strong emotion caused by the anticipation of danger (i.e. fear) is a factor. Oh I am not talking about healthy fear like the fear of rattlesnakes, pit bull dogs, terrorists, etc., or the healthy reverential fear of God. I am talking about the type of fear the young pastor-elder Timothy experienced when it came to sharing the Gospel (2 Tim 1:8).
How many times have we missed an opportunity to share our testimony or the Gospel because of being hamstrung by this emotion? Maybe I feared what others might think; maybe I would fail to share the correct words, etc. So I can relate to Timothy, and I can relate to Paul’s encouraging yet convicting words to him. “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. . .” But before these words, he reminded him of something he already knew: “. . .God gave us a spirit [a disposition] not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Tim 1:7).” This particular word for fear appears only here in the New Testament and describes one (a soldier) fleeing from battle.
Timothy, I believe, had a choice. He could flee because he was afraid or he could choose to be empowered by God for the battle for people’s spiritual lives. The same applies to you and me as we are given opportunities to be witnesses. We can flee (maybe not physically) or we can choose be clothed with “power” from on high (Luke 24:49) to share the transforming word of grace.